The unity fetish is almost making Capriles inevitable

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I took a few days off to visit some relatives in the Chilean Patagonia. While I was there, I caught a glimpse of Pablo Pérez’s interview with Ismael Cala on CNN En Español.

I hadn’t listened to Pérez at length much, and one of the things that most struck me is that Pablo and Leopoldo … are desperate for a game changer. They are in dire need of something to subvert the established order, by which they are stuck in the teens or the twenties, and Henrique is comfortably ahead.

But the political dynamic is not conducive to this. Unity is rewarded above anything else. Any attempt at internal dissent, even one as timid as Carlos Ocaríz’s the other day, is immediately punished.

Can’t we all just … get along? Apparently, that’s all we are allowed to do.

This is a huge problem for the second- and third-place guys, because they are basically prevented from answering the one question that can begin to change the numbers: how are you different from Capriles?

If we are all going to be united, if there are no meaningful policy differences between the candidates, if I am effectively muzzled from drawing a sharp distinction between myself and the guy on top … then how can I convince voters to reconsider their preference?

Negative campaigning always works. When you are effectively barred from campaigning negatively, what remains is the status quo.

All of this plays into Capriles’ hands. Pérez may get the dinosaurs’ stamp of approval. Leopoldo may get the endorsement of the Valencia yuppies. But what we said a few months ago remains true today – the primary is Capriles’ to lose.

1 COMMENT

  1. “When you are effectively barred from campaigning negatively, what remains is the status quo.”
    There will be enough hijinks and outright fights after the opposition primary-and it will be dirty.
    I appreciate the “cleanness” and maturity of the opposition candidates-I know nothing exciting
    for you..
    I am sure Chavez would love to see the opposition fighting each other with knives too…
    Also, hoping that others do not deliberately omit Machado. I know you knew someone would
    notice…
    Anyway-what do Chileans think about elections in Venezuela?

  2. Capriles is doing a wonderful job campaigning and I am so proud of the opposition candidates-
    they certainly cheer me up. I have been overly critical of Perez, and sort of ignored Lopez.
    Now-I have taken very strong interest in Machado -this is just my view.
    (By the way-I began to follow and read you guys posts when I was recovering from heart attack
    and got pacemaker. I am busy again now-trasportation, shipping and dealing with airlines, use computer and keep checking often here-really like this crowd here.)

  3. They can present differences in platforms. Just because my focus is on CCT and UCT promises doesn’t mean there’s nothing else they can offer.

    • For differentiation examples, Arria and Medina: one is calling for a constituyente, the other talking power to labor unions.

      • What do you mean by mudding the water? If you are talking about his statements about HRC and PP, I don’t see what would be the problem. What Ocariz and Caldera said was far much worse than what he said and I don’t see you complaining about that…

        • This is not 1998. AD and Copei endorsements arenot “kisses of death”. Nor are they -still- game changers.

          Ultimately, AD and Copei will go for the winning candidate, as PJ will.

          BTW: Unity is not a fetish. Is a necessity: PJ -and not Capriles- have learnt that. If you alienate your potential allies by making runs at everything, they won’t be sympathetic, and they might turn on you on the small races.

          • That’s why I say they are not game changers. Those who dislike AD-Copei within the opposition are less inclined to vote for PP anyway (too old-school), and most AD or Copei voters are not going to necessarily vote for their endorsed candidate.

  4. There’s negative campaigning and negative campaigning though. The definition from the link wiki is too broad if you want to apply it to what happens in the US where character attacks rather than policy attacks become the norm. I think that kind of campaigning will rightfully raise eyebrows at the MUD.

    ‘Policy-negative-campaigning’ on the other hand is just another way of saying debate of ideas. If my opponents’ policy is dumb I wanna hear why you think so and I wanna hear what would you do better and why your solution would work better than the other guy’s. And there may be the answer: debates. Real and respectful debates alla Foucault and Chomsky of the 70’s. Maybe LL and PP should band together and demand that this happens.

    Otherwise as a voter I am not interested in watching them throw shite balls at each other.

    • I see several points of failure with the fund proposal mentioned at the link. I suggest “upgrading” it to a non managed fund that requires no elections, and one that simply outputs directly to all citizens, based merely on a time average input. (Perhaps even a vaying time average such as: the time between today and two years before the current presidential term).

      Would you agree elected people will not necessarily be the best fund managers? That a government may be able to use its power to affect such an election? That the fund managers may later be swayed into managing the fund in certain ways that favor certain others, even themselves?

      Besides, we’re back to the oil money belonging to all not having been taxed, therefore making any spending of it, a very regressive spending, even if it is on projects for the poor. for example, if the oil money, and/or its managed fund interest, ends up being spend entirely on foodstamps, then the 99% poorest Venezuelans would have provided 99% of that money, and the poorest one of them all would have provided the same amount as the richest one of the richest 1%. Regressive.

      • I define as management of the fund basically making sure that all funds are collected and paid out according to the fiduciary responsibilities… and so why would an appointed manager be better than one elected for a period?

        I have no idea what you mean with “if the oil money, and/or its managed fund interest, ends up being spend entirely on foodstamps, then the 99% poorest Venezuelans would have provided 99% of that money, and the poorest one of them all would have provided the same amount as the richest one of the richest 1%. Regressive.” Compare that to the current dividends to the richer, like free gas for those who have cars and cheap dollars for those who have the money to buy cheap dollars?

        But I have little vested interest in splitting hairs with you…. Whatever wrestles the power of the oil-resultas away form the few and the politicians is at this time ok with me. Just doing that will bring the changes in mentality to correct the rest as “en el camino se enderezan las cargas”

        • “why would an appointed manager be better than one elected for a period?” I didn’t and don’t say there should be an appointed manager, either.

          “I have no idea what you mean… But I have little vested interest in splitting hairs with you” Sorry to bother you, then.

        • Per Kurowski,

          I am truly sorry to bother you, but from previous exchanges I deduce you would want to understand what I meant earlier, so I venture the following explanation:

          If the government sells 30million barrels of oil at 100USD/barrel (i.e., 3,000millionUSD), and assuming that 30million Venezuelans owned, equally, the 30million barrels to begin with, then the government holds 100USD for each Venezuelan.

          No matter on what the government spends the oil money, each Venezuelan will have contributed an equal amount towards the spenditure. This implies the two things I pointed out about any spenditure rooted in oil money:

          1) the poorest Venezuelan will always contribute the same amount as the richest Venezuelan, and

          2) 99% of the poorest Venezuelans always contribute 99% towards the spenditure.

          As to the gas subsidy, I agree it is regressive, but if I compare, as you asked, I have to say that the regressiveness of taking the same amount of money from each Venezuelan (richest and poorest alike) to pay government oil based spenditures is more regressive than a gas subsidy. My position, however, is that the gas subsidy be killed ASAP, but ending the government spending of oil money should be killed even sooner. In fact, by doing the latter, the government could no longer afford the former.

          Sorry, if this falls under “splitting hairs”; that is not my intention.

          • “If the government sells 30million barrels of oil at 100USD/barrel (i.e., 3,000millionUSD), and assuming that 30million Venezuelans owned, equally, the 30million barrels to begin with, then the government holds 100USD for each Venezuelan.”

            Per month? Only 1 million per day?

            If you give the resultas petroleras directly to the citizen, so that he can spend it as he likes, how would that be regressive?

          • If the govern does that it comes to 10 bugs a day per person. Which is not too much. That is if the government gives you every dollar and the barrel stays in $100 and the daily production is of 2.5 million barrels.

            We don’t only need to divide the cake better. We need a bigger cake.

          • Per Kurowski: “Per month? Only 1 million per day?” The example is for every 30million barrels of oil, independent of timeframe.

            “If you give the resultas petroleras directly to the citizen, so that he can spend it as he likes, how would that be regressive?” That wouldn’t, precisely because that would not be considered a government *spending*.

            Rodrigo Linares: “Which is not too much.” It would guarantee lifting every Venezuelan out of poverty, five times over. For those in poverty it’s the world! This should be the main platform promise for the coming election: daily, unconditional cash distribution of 100% oil revenues.

          • I guess you are right. It would be 50% more than minimal wage (if we say that 1 lechuga verda = Bs 8.5). This might be actually all that some people would need,which worries me even more because encourages laziness and a million children. I think social programs and development funds are an utmost necessity but they have to be well though and tuned to our culture and society.

          • Rodrigo Linares: The first question to ask yourself why wouldn’t you give each citizen his 100 USD per the sale of his barrel; it’s his. The second question should be how else could you possibly spend the money without it being regressive, given the poorest would be contributing as much as the richest towards whatever spending. The third question could be what evidence do you use to counter the ever-increasing evidence that cash distribution systems tend to work more efficiently than any alternative:

            http://elsa.berkeley.edu/~emiguel/pdfs/BostonGlobe_2010-07-16.pdf

            the world over:

            http://dengmengwei.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/map.png

            The final question, regardless of any other you asked or skipped, should sound something like is there a promise that the opposition could make that has a better chance of winning the election and still have a sound economic basis on consumer market capitalism, yet guarantees zero poverty.

          • I do not disagree with CCTs (shown in the world map you sent). I believe they are sound social programs if they are well structured. The article before that was interesting. I would be curious to see actual data. I don’t mean to be stubborn, social sciences are not my field although I am really interested in them. Unconditional cash transfer are the ones that I am not convinced about yet. Not at least until I see data.

            Thank you for sharing

          • Rodrigo,

            I have been discussing with Loroferoz and Extorres about this issue. For them, economics is almost like natural science: free markets and the whole thing act according to invisible rules…just give equal opportunities (in the form of free cash for all) and let everything else be set free and the market forces will fix everything.

          • Rodrigo Linares, I hear you. Thanks. You’ve given it already much more consideration than most.

            Go question by question.

            1) Is there a reason not to give people their money? Does a bank have a right not to give you money from your checking account just because the teller thinks you’re going drinking that night? Do you and I have the right to decide what is another adult’s valid ways of spending his own 10 dollars a day, especially in light of our seeing thousands of richer others spend it in exactly the same ways or worse ways?

            2) What spending alternative is there for that money? To any alternative you give, I’ll have to look at its regressiveness and ask: do you really support that for investment A or B or C we get the poor to contribute the same as the rich? Really? Are we going to support that?

            3) Regarding the CCTs, you’re right; no one has tried going all out UCT as I suggest. Are we going to wait until someone else does it, or are we going to lead the world. From what I’ve seen of Venezuelan gutsiness, I guess we’ll be followers. But ask yourself why it’s not getting approved, and you’ll see it’s for a very sad reason: the elite minority don’t want the poor majority to have this. Ouch. Can chavez be right?! On this, he is. We, who are better off, refuse to even give the poor the option of receiving their own money to use for what they want!

            4) Do we really want to risk losing the next election by not promising the one promise that chavez cannot trump? Are we going to blame someone or something else if we don’t win this one knowing this was a valid option?

          • Extorres. First, good article. Second, I really appreciate the exchange. On your questions:

            1) Is there a reason not give the people their money? I can only answer with another question. Is that money rightfully theirs (ours)? You will say “Of course, natural resources belong to the nations and its citizens!”. But what about the citizens to come (i.e. future generations)? Such way of thinking would only lead to a “Drill baby drill” attitude and the irresponsible plundering of natural resources so our monthly “oil revenue” gets fatter every month and people will vote for whom ever promises to deliver that.

            2) How would I spend it then? Well, I think wealth derives from work. Is the societies ability to transform natural resources into useful products and services what makes a society wealthy and productive, not having natural resources (that’s just serendipity). So if we are to become a rich country we need to work in improving our ability transform natural resources. That, I believe is only achieved by education. Being egalitarian by knowledge (not wealth) is what really empowers individuals to do what ever they want and really opens opportunities for them. Then the outcome differential will be a combination of hard work and luck. Of course, it is needless to say that a coherent social contract is required.

            3) Will we be followers? If we do it now we would be as it has been tried (and is tried). Alaska has his oil revenue fund that grants every Alaskan a check coming from the oil revenue. The results are arguably positive. Again it develop an attitude of comfort and that made the check the center of the political debate when elections came (how fat the check could be that is). Now, once that status quo has been attain it is impossible to get rid of the check. What will it be of them (and us) when oil stops being a valued commodity?

            4) Given my arguments before. Yes. I stand by that UCTs are not healthy for a nation.

            If anything, we need to improve our work culture, our desire to learn as a society. People need to develop a taste for accomplishment and “pride of ownership”. This last expression I am not even sure that it exist in Spanish, and that my friend, it’s no coincidence (and perhaps the root cause of our problems).

          • Rodrigo Linares, Thank, you. I also appreciate your consideration of what I am well aware is commonly a counter current direction. I’m more than happy to keep an open exchange.

            1) My question is one of principle: with what right do you or I or government officials *not* give someone their money, especially when they are suffering hardships without it?

            1a) Is it theirs? Yes, in Venezuela’s case, the natural resources constitutionally belong to the citizens, the current ones. As citizens join the nation, they automatically become part owners, and as citizens leave the nation, they lose any part ownership. All citizens partake, equally.

            1b) What about future generations? Whatever natural resources are available when they are born will be theirs, equally.

            1c) Will giving it out lead to “Drill baby drill” attitude? Maybe, but why doesn’t that apply to those getting the money now? The oil industry’s limits on demand and supply put a cap on excessive supply.

            1d) Will they vote for whomever promises to deliver fatter “oil revenues”? I’m kind of counting on it, but only to win the election, not after that. It’s a good thing to have a whole nation wanting a government that creates an economic environment that maximizes (return on citizenship) = [(natural resource revenue) + (taxation spending)]. Don’t forget that all that “oil revenue” does not just end in people’s pockets, it gets spent, which then gets taxed, which gets government the money it needs to spend on public goods and services, which includes education towards better voting choices, including voting not only for fatter “oil revenues”…

            1e) In a democracy, if that’s what the majority would want, and it does not go against individual rights, then… ?

            Remember, my first question is about the principle of it, not whether you and I like its ramifications. Personally, I think the ramifications would be awesome. I rather think that the cities would tend to empty, that violence would go down not just in streets but in homes, that employers would be forced to offer better work conditions, that entrepeneurs and artists would sky rocket, that government would be held accountable for its spending, on and on. But even if I thought that the nation would go down the drain, I still have to justify the principle of not letting it happen. Which is why I ask you, on principle, how do you justify not giving people their money?

            2) My question here is one of alternative: The alternative to distributing the money is to spend it regressively. I say give it to its rightful owners. Are you saying spend it regressively? Using the example from a previous comment, if the government spends 3,000million on education, the poorest Venezuelan would have contributed 100USD to those 3,000million, while the richest Venezuelan would have also contributed the same, 100USD. 99% of the spending would be paid for by 99% of the poorest Venezuelans. That’s regressive.

            If you believe that wealth derives from work, where do you believe work comes from? Isn’t it from market jobs? Don’t market jobs come from market expansion? And doesn’t market expansion come from spending in the market? Do you see consumer spending causing market expansion in just the right areas to create the jobs exactly where they are most needed in providing the goods and services that are most wanted by the consumers? So, isn’t the consumer spending an efficient way to transform natural resources into the wealth you are aiming for?

            Perhaps you haven’t read Quico’s write-up regarding citizens versus supplicants: http://caracaschronicles.blogspot.com/2007/07/torres-in-bethlehem.html Note that the social contract between Venezuelans and government is currently twisted. The key to the UCT proposal is that it untwists that social contract before the wells run dry… eliminating poverty, *now*, not after millions suffer through poverty their whole lives. By untwisting the social contract is that we can hope education to become a government priority. By the way, do you think it is more effective to educate children from poor homes, or educate children from non poor homes? Also by the way, how is it easier to teach a kid to be considerate towards others: by expecting him to get ahead out of poverty leaving behind his fellow classmates in poverty, or by getting ahead leaving behind only those who either chose to stay behind or reached their limit but never in poverty?

            3) Alaska is not an example of what is proposed here. There are several very basic differences that I think are the cause of the flaws in the Alaska model. The main one is that it is not a small, daily amount, but an infrequent lump sum that is paid out. That alone has an entirely different social effect. As to what will happen when the oil revenue drops, same as any non oil state, live off of its taxation money, which comes from market activity, which would come from oil revenue spent in the local consumer market…

            4) So you would rather have chavez again, than promising UCTs?! By the way, the sense of “pride of ownership” originates from owning things in the first place. Money savviness for Venezuelans needs to originate from Venezuelans having money in the first place. Letting them have, in their hands, the money that is already rightfully theirs is a good place to start…

          • carl: ” ‘Good point about people voting for whoever promises more oil revenure.’ Best point against UCTs yet.”

            Can you blame them? After generations of governments claiming to spend the oil revenues in a better-for-the-nation way, after billions of USD spent on social programs and industry investment, people are supposed to believe that *these* politicians, as opposed to those *other* ones, are *this time* going to invest the oil revenues in a better-for-the-nation way, lifting people out of poverty through education and job creation –you know, the “right” way of lifting people out of poverty?! There’s one problem with that sell: they are hungry today, their roofs are leaking tonight, and they won’t be able to find a job tomorrow.

            Also, explain what went “wrong” with *my* education! How is it that I believe we should distribute their oil revenues to them? How can you guarantee, given my existence, that your education plan will have them thinking like you? My education taught me to think that we need to get them out of poverty, *now*, then you can carry on with your better-for-the-nation plans with taxation money, but remember: you won’t have to use any of the precious taxation money on social programs or market activation because there won’t be any poverty, and the consumer market will be one of the most active in the world.

          • I agree with everything you say Torres, almost.

            My thing with the people voting for whoever promises more revenue is that then a politician wouldn’t have to campaign on anything but that if he didn’t want to. So, even though it helps the economy and even justice, it hurts democracy. Do you see what I mean?

          • carl,

            I see what you mean, but your premise is what’s wrong. The premise is that politicians wouldn’t have to campaign on anything but that if they didn’t want to. The premise is wrong for two main reasons:

            1) There is a limit to how much can be made from natural resource revenue, so once a politician promises, as I suggest, 100% of all revenue, any other politician has to start talking about *how* the 100% will be greater with him than with the other politician.

            2) There is the taxation money to talk about. Once all politicians start sounding the same with the revenue promises, the differences will be in how they plan to spend the taxation money. This is where the social contract of citizens vs supplicants comes in. In one word, Democracy.

            Your focus on democracy is nice and all, but consider what may happen to democracy if we lose the election to chavez. Do you really consider that getting 100% of Venezuelans out of poverty, by doing what the majority of Venezuelans (i.e., democracy) would vote for if given the choice, and reactivating the consumer market, and eliminating the nefarious petrostate model, is worse for democracy than risking having chavez win his next election?! Are you that confident that your ideal of democracy with poverty is better than my ideal of democracy with zero poverty, so much so that you wouldn’t even want it to be up for a vote?

            See what I mean?

          • Meh, we can’t see eye to eye because you focus too much on the present. Fuck it, I still like your idea. Maybe once Chavez is gone we can discuss this again and you will see what I mean.

          • carl, anytime; I’m always up for discussing this. I would think, however, that trying to ensure that chavez is out of the picture is the main reason for discussing sooner rather than later. Just keep in mind the foundations of the four questions I made earlier:

            principle of the money being theirs
            alternatives being regressive
            lack or counter arguments to success of CCT implementations
            urgency and importance of beating chavez at the election

            None of the above are “too much” about the present. My motivation is, but not my argumentation. So, really, anytime. Thanks.

  5. I ´ve said it before, I think party support is going to be relevant but not the determining factor in the primaries. Just as Chavez has an emotional link with his voters, the Oppo voters are not thinking much about policy or party orders, they/we just want the guy who has the most chance against Chavez, and for that sole reason Capriles will win.

    In regards to the fighting, I do think that the parties are ganging up against HCR, however, PJ has been very greedy in chasing Alcaldías all over the place, the pressure in Baruta and Chacao has been huge from the yellow and blacks, obviously other parties do not react well having to face primaries were they are governing. Although I think PJ played it quite well (I do believe the AD+Copei support will sink PP), going in public with this was a dumb move, even moreso for Ocariz in particular.

    In the end they are all guilty, stupid and greedy…

    • I seem to have contradicted myself so I´ll rephrase (re-paragraph ? :p): IMHO Most party affiliated voters won´t vote for who their party tells them too, some support might even cause more damage than benefits.

      In the end the one who shows the oppo voters he/she has the chops to beat Chavez will be the one who wins the primaries. So far HCR with or without support from the main parties is the guy to beat, politically speaking the guy has grown immensely, I don´t think PP is there yet, however LL and MCM are just as good in public.

      This will get really interesting in the coming months…

  6. JC,
    I think you are forgetting how debates and gaffes can change the political landscape in a matter of hours. Besides, February ’12 is still far away to predict what can happens.
    So far, the candidates look like unfinished products, and they need to improve a lot if they want to stand a chance against the old snake oil salesman. PP still needs to become a national figure; MCM has to overcome the not-folksy-enough tag she has on; LL needs to convince people that he is not another guy suffering of messiah complex; HRC needs to stop being so dull.
    I personally believe that we need some friction and heated exchanges between our candidates. Debates and discussions not about personal records, but about policies and goals. All the candidates need to step up their game, and a healthy, fair competition should help them.
    Defeating chavismo is already a very difficult task, and if they don’t improve fast, it’s gonna be almost impossible to do that.

    • Capriles will do well in the debate. His press conference yesterday was OK, and expectations regarding his speeches and content (“he’s a doer, not a thinker”, and whatnot) are so low that any level of performance will be good for him.

      Because, alas, neither PP, nor LL, nor MCM are Rafael Caldera. And HCR is not Lusinchi.

    • I agree. This should be the moment when the media becomes useful to democracy and stage debates. Candidates would refine positions as well as their images and voters would become more interested. They don’t need to be huge events. I actually prefer the format recently used by Caracol TV, with journos and candidates around a table, with radio microphones hanging, shirt and tie (or no tie if you don’t want) and serious talk about serious issues.

      It looked very pro, they did it with lots of candidates, (not just the main municipalities) and it worked very well.

      Ah, and the two or three journalists would have to study a lot to ask smart questions.

    • Capriles has improved his discourse skills, based in comparison with earlier this year. MCM is getting better, because she’s putting herself in a position as a clear alternative compared to her opponents. She won’t win, but she can take an important number of votes, giving her a good political capital for the future.

      For me, there are two questions. First, what will be Pablo Perez theme? The other 3 major candidates have established themselves a theme: HCR, the road to progress (via el autobus); LL, the best Venezuela and MCM, the popular capitalism. Pablo has started late in that aspect.

      Second is Leopoldo’s base: If he can take votes from other candidates, who could be vulnerable?

      I support the idea of debates, but I don’t see it happening at least this year.

  7. I just hope adecos are not going to do in Calabozo and El Tocuyo what they were always doing in voting centres and what PSUV is doing now.

    PJ lacks witnesses in those areas and it is in those cities and similiar cities where 70% of Venezuela’s population lives.

    • IMHO, HCR should have courted AD. That would have been a game changer.

      Instead, he did almost everything in his power to ruffle the adeco feathers…

        • 1. Not going to the AD 70th anniversary party (adecos are proud of their history), and claiming he had to go to some cancha de bolas’ opening, or something.
          2. Not going to CAP’s burial (whoich could have easily erased the previous sting).
          3. Being HCR, in general (just kidding, though. It’s not like he’s Julio Borges or anything like that)…. 😉

  8. Face it these clowns have no chance at all since President Chavez’s numbers keep rising.
    If he were to get rid of the “den of snakes” in parts of the corrupt bureacracy and the Foreign Ministry they would go sky high.

    Doral and Miami looking real good for you all, get their while you can!

    Rojo Rojito
    Cort

    • If Chavez got rid of the “den of snakes”, replaced them with people chosen for their talent rather than their ideology, and let them do their jobs without interference, we wouldn’t be in this mess to begin with.

      But then, you might as well ask a cat to bark. Chavez wouldn’t be Chavez if he behaved like a president rather than an emperor.

    • Eres un rolitranco ‘e pendejo, Cort!

      So he’s had what, 13 years to ensure there are no snakes, and there’s more mapanares and cuaimas than ever in the “den”.

      If my grandmother had wheels, she’d be a bicycle, but she doesn’t so she’s not.

      Who do you think you’re foolin’?

      • Roberto, ese tipo es un troll. Si buscas su nombre en la red verás el tipo de “contribuciones” que ha realizado. Es un absoluto pendejo.

  9. Juan,

    I think it’s way too early to say that this primary is Capriles’ to lose. There are still three months to go, a lifetime in politics. PP has two strong political machineries behind him and LL has charisma, he talk pretty, and has money. HCR benefited from being out in the spotlight before the other two, which is one reason why his numbers are higher. Let’s not call this for PJ just yet, please.

    • I’m not calling it for Capriles, I would never do that. Three months is a lifetime, and all three of them could end up winning (MCM is not going to win, we might as well accept it). I’m simply pointing out that it’s going to be really difficult, in this hyper-kumbaya environment we have, for the other two to draw a sharp distinction between themselves and HCR. It can happen, but it’s unlikely. The numbers haven’t budged much in the past few months, and that’s probably a consequence of this dynamic.

      • I agree with the “everybody dance” lovefest of the opposition you describe. Mr. Cristobal.
        Kind of amazing that there is no fighting so to speak.(Perez threw a few punches recently.)
        Most agree with you concerning Machado, I am hoping she continues, though..
        I think it is great that the opposition is “no shooting in the tent” -and we can live with that-
        until after February..

  10. JC

    IMO Valencia is not going to vote for LL. If he thought that Proyecto Venezuela was gonna give him support he is wrong. I am from Valencia, I know that I don’t represent the voter for the country. But, I do represent the voter from the zona norte de Valencia which is the likely heavy primary voter, and I tell you we are tired of the Salas clan. Proyecto Venezuela is a great party (like the PSUV) with great people but they are stronger in the south of Valencia, and even though there are more people, they are not likely primary voters.

    I have been trying to get the primary results of 25 de Abril de 2010, but I can’t find it. The truth is Cochola won the north with 61% of the votes with the support of Scarano (can’t get the number of votes data though, do you have them?).

    And it is said that Scarano is going to endorse Capriles maybe Maria Corina (small chance). Whoever Scarano endorses will win Valencia. The votes for Valencia might be decisive for Carabobo. In any case, it’s not going to be a landslide victory for any candidate, it’s gonna be close and I think Capriles will win because Valencianos from the north, that don’t like the Salas clan. These people xenophobe we are not going to let the chance go to tell them get the fuck out of here; I feel bad for LL because I was a likely supporter of him, but with PV support he just lost my vote, support, and any kind of sympathy; he just lost Carabobo there.

    • Salomon,
      We are neighbours. I think we agree on almost all here but one thing: the Salas-Feo clan is destructive. They’d rather see the boat sink than know they contributed to their rival win.
      I am really sorry PJ in Carabobo is so sifrino that doesn’t venture into such spaces as Miguel Peña, Libertador and Los Guayos; spending some time there would bring us LOADS of votes.

      • I don’t see disagreement in that. I try to be objective and not over bash the Salas (including the son) clan. I am also an Italian citizen, grew up with an Italian family (my mom side). He attacked all italians when he said in buenas noches “No hay nada mas peligroso que un italiano con un proyecto debajo del brazo” There is nothing more dangerous than an Italian with a project under his arm… Shameful.

        So, I personally have nothing but negative thoughts about the Salas. And I agree with what you say about “They’d rather see the boat sink than know they contributed to their rival win.” My family is tired of this; my mom asked me not to ask her anymore to vote once more for these douches. And to be honest, if we win the presidency (fingers crossed) I don’t see why we have to vote for el pollo again. I mean we wanted this political victories (2007 referendum, 2008 governors, 2010 legislative) to show the country that chavez is not invulnerable. But if Chavez himself loses, we have nothing to prove in winning the regional. So, no. I am never going to ask my family or my friends again to vote for el pollo or anyone from the clan.

        • Salomon,

          What Salas said was xenophobe and thus stupid. Now, quite frankly: one should feel as offended about that whether the target was an Italia-Venezuelan or a Madagascar-Venezuelan or a Spanish Senegalese.

          So, I say this: I’d rather have Scarano, but he is not blameless either; He acts like an “imperator” and that is not good. It means he goes against laws “porque soy el alcalde”, even if those laws have to do with health and the like.
          That’s no way to go.

          Unfortunately in Venezuela we haven’t progressed much since the times when a group of European slave hunters and former pearl “entrepreneurs” arrived from Cubagua to Coro and then quarrelled with the equally lawless Welser and just did things porque les da la gana.

          • Agreed! But trust me if there is an open insult against a Spanish Senegalese and it happens that you are a Spanish Senegalese, you will understand better than the rest of the people the magnitude of the insult. It’s politically stupid and everyone knows is wrong.

            I am not trying to defend Scarano or anything, but it would be better for strengthening your argument if you elaborated on this: “It means he goes against laws “porque soy el alcalde”, even if those laws have to do with health and the like”.

          • OK, this is very embarrasing, but I realise I have to GTAveledo you here.
            I cannot elaborate. And he is one of the best out there…but he always thinks he knows better.

          • I don’t know…I used to,but not anymore. I shit on nationalities and patriotism.
            I have seen how those things don’t make people more useful to the region they came from or are living in.
            I respect civil courage and commitment and I try to do something for my “Heimat” out of gut feeling, but I recognise my origins are just a random thing (OK, my parents chose where to do it).
            No me engorilo más que en otras ocasiones si el insulto va hacia mi “clan”.

        • Interesting take on the Valencia dynamics. I have a feeling the PV endorsement won’t make much of a difference. That press conference between Leopoldo and El Pollo was all sorts of awkward. Besides, right when Leopoldo was going to talk, Globovisión cut to Ledezma’s rambling speech declining his aspirations, complete with Globovisión’s soundtrack (the drums of Mordor). Terrible stuff.

        • Salas’ slur on Italians was not only disgraceful; it was biggoted. It was also highly stupid coming from a politician who’s supposed to know how to build bridges.

  11. It remains to be seen whether HCR can pull his campaign through to the final hurdle. But there’s no doubt his campaign has been leagues ahead of others. Why? He just went out and did it. He made sure he’s been in the news every week since he won the governorship. And most importantly he didn’t procrastinate by leaving it until the last minute to make the deals to propel him to candidateship. At least Leopoldo had the excuse of waiting until the IACHR springboard. What’s the other’s excuses?

    • Oh, my! Their speech is going to become very convoluted to try to express
      anything with regard to others from the MUD.
      Did he actually say anything of substance after the Chinita prayer?

    • Could it be that he’s not able to tell what’s the difference with HRC because there’s no difference so far? The 4 are trying to build bridges to the disenchanted chavistas, selling themselves as guys concerned about the social issues. There’s not a wedge issue, not a hot button, nothing. So far, we only got some catch phrases and some innuendos, but nothing else. I think that the only exception is probably LL, who has mentioned that he wants to duplicate oil production, although he hasn’t explained how he intends to achieve that.

      So far all the candidates are being extra cautious, trying to avoid a faux pas that can ruin their opportunity. As we get closer to the primary, we will probably see some bold moves from the candidates to get ahead.

        • I was thinking the same thing about MCM. She is probably going finger-waging on the people because because she has nothing to lose and a lot to win. Her message is quite the opposite of the populist nonsense of chavismo, which may sound a bit scary for those that dream of Chavez coming on the back of a white horse to rescue them of their misery. On the other hand she stands out with that message and differentiates herself from the other guys. I don’t know if that will pan out, but it’s worth a shot…

          • @A. Barreda: “MCM… Her message is quite the opposite of the populist nonsense of chavismo” …

            Yes, and some quite the opposite of the populist nonsense of opocionismo…. I just hope she´ll gets it and goes the full Monty!

          • I completely agree. HCR has completely imitated Chavez. To a point that is very scary (the jacket, today that thing about las misiones, wtf). There are some tough decisions to be made ahead of us to get us out of this mess and I feel neither LL, HCR nor PP is being honest to to the electorate about that. I would even dare to say that none of then has or knows anything concrete. MCM is the only one that I feel is conveying that message “there is hope but we have to work like hell to make it”. Is also the only one that I feel have had somewhat concrete ideas.

            To be honest I am very thorned between voting for a guy that is most likely to beat Chavez (HCR) but will have a mediocre government (or is not truthful as a candidate) vs MCM who seems more honest (and someone that will perform better) but not likely to beat the man.

            As a more philosophical note. I think democracy has been declining everywhere (from Congo to US) since the arrival of these “political marketing” ordeal. Candidates have molded themselves into something that people like instead of being those guys/gals that we choose because they are ballsy, smart and are able to make the right decision cuando la cosa se pone chiquita.

          • Rodrigo,

            I agree with you a lot: a) MCM is the most honest candidate and thus deserves a lot of points for that: if this were an honesty race she should win by a landslide, and b) political games are disgusting in the sense that, while trying to reach the maximum amount of voters, politicians are willing to concede on their ideas, to the point of stepping over their own principles.

            Now, to address your (my own as well) dilemma between voting for the candidate who can beat Chavez vs. the candidate who truthfully embodies the change and honesty the country needs, I always refer to the bounded rationality principle (I forgot who was the first person to use this exact example, so sorry for not quoting the source): if you go to a sweatshop, and see children working, you could think “these children should be in school and not working here”. However, closing the sweatshop does not entail the children will go back to school: since they need money to cover their (or their family’s) basic biological needs, they would probably go and work somewhere else, probably even worse, like in the streets as sex workers, thus making them much worse off. They chose what they chose because of their limited alternatives: sweatshops are, given their choices, the most likely way for them to fulfill their life goals (e.g. get out of poverty and study to be successful)

            Right now, HCR seems to be the candidate with the highest probability of beating Chavez. He might not be the best possible president for the country, but the question is, can we possibly achieve that optimum in the next elections or do we have to choose a nasty path to eventually reach what we want? Ideally, the best candidate should be the one who should win/have the highest probabilities of beating Chavez, but at the end, in my opinion, the risk of not voting for that not-so-good candidate is too high for us to afford it.

            The solution to the dilemma? MCM, show me you can beat Chavez and I will vote for you/ campaign for you insanely. C’est la vie…..

      • I am all for the free market and against all forms of populism, because it has the effect of writing idiotic worldviews (or rather blind prejudice) into policy and law. I see economic freedom as the MAIN ingredient in the rights of individuals. If you cannot do what you will with what is yours, or if it’s not yours, there’s no freedom to do anything really, unless you do it inside your mind and don’t tell anyone.

        On the other hand, I am completely against emergency situations, specially creating them. Free markets and individual freedom are common sense, and should look NORMAL, even in their reinstatement or creation. It should be insured that a market is created from the start, and not something else, though.

        The thing I find silliest about Revolutionaries, and specially the Marxist kind, is their creation of the perpetual Emergency which they call Revolution.

        Dropping a 27-F (or other “neoliberal”, FMI-like recipe) flashbang grenade on Venezuela is the surest way to get chavismo back in power.

        If things can be done gradually, it’s fine. As long as you walk in the right direction, you can choose to not rush recklessly.

  12. Look like in the end the number of candidates in the primary will be 5: Capriles, Lopez, Machado, Perez and Diego Arria. Looks like Pablo Medina was not allowed because he didn’t get the money.

  13. I like the multiple messages from the various boxing champs, each punching the current one in office. Boxeador Medina highlights the following traits of the current government:

    la inseguridad
    la destrucción del aparato productivo del país
    la falta de corazón
    la desmantelación del derecho al trabajo
    los golpes al obrero
    la violacíón de la constitución
    la permisividad de los poderes públicos
    los derechos del pueblo, frente a las máquinas electorales, que no pueden ser alquiladas por el CNE.

  14. I wish any of the candidates would speak
    about deprogramming the brainwashed
    “el pueblo”. (And, reeducating them afterwards)
    The chavista bolivarianismo-cubanista propaganada
    apparatus has infected the masses so thoroughly
    that they are in such a sick, dazed state that
    you can yell louldly the facts and show photos
    and evidence and _____nothing happens.
    Don’t take my word for it, call a doctor…

  15. CharlesC,

    Believe it or not, there are many many,very very “patriotic” people in Venezuela.Specially here in Zulia where they say they are “regionalistas hasta la muerte” but they listen to Vallenato 24/7 out loud and love a good pizza.

    You can’t,as a candidate, say that the country is brainwashed and polluted. The masses will cast stones at you. But it is the truth,and despite you and me wanting someone to mention these issues, it probably won’t happen. Maybe when he/she becomes president.

  16. Oh man, with the latest news coming from the MUD, I have a rant-y post simmering in my belly. I’ll post something tonight, as soon as I’m done grading.

  17. Too premature to call. Capriles still comes across as a “muchachito sifrino”, not to mention LL. This plays well for the die hard oppo crowd, which is probably the one that picks anything different from the NS/NR option on the oppo candidate polls, but not so much for the larger, more diverse crowd that will end up voting during the primaries and later in the national election. I hate to say that PP appears to be a more appealing candidate. If it were up to me, I would give PP 5-10 more years to prepare himself in international affairs, economics and social matters before giving him the task of running the nation. He is not ready, and I am not sure if he will ever be (something that Venezuelans have never taken the time to analyse and develop: how do we make sure, at least probabilistically, that the person we elect to the highest office in the country has the minimum qualifications to do the job). The problem is that it is not up to me and we don’t have 5-10 years to wait for him. PP has the support of AD and Copei and I think this should not be downplayed. As the candidates receive more media exposure people will see more of the awkwardness of Capriles (a single guy with no wife or kids to show to our very socially conservative/catholic population) while PP can polish his natural charm and undeniable charisma and continue to attract more of those ni-nis that see in him an alternative to Chacumbele and his 40 thieves. I see PP gaining momentum, and would not be surprised to see him at the top of the polls very soon.
    I guarantee you that Chacu prefers Capriles as an adversary than PP. It would be much easier to defeat.

    • Well said! Por fin! how do we make sure, at least probabilistically, that the person we elect to the highest office in the country has the minimum qualifications to do the job.

      I think the answer is, when we stop being so taken by outward appearances and nicely-packaged soundbytes that we don’t dig deeper.

      As for PP gaining momentum, he now has banner ads on Globovisión.com. So big money is backing him.

      The next few months will be interestering.

  18. “I congratulate you, Iris, for the tremendous job,” he added. “You are like Mother Teresa of Calcutta.”(Iris Valera has been on the job-about 2 months) Another stupid statement by Chavez.

    “Venezuela’s 30 notoriously violent prisons were designed to hold about 12,000 inmates but are packed with about 47,000, according to official figures.
    Inmates frequently acquire contraband including firearms and drugs from visiting relatives or bribed prison guards. Seizures of hostages are common.”
    CHAVEZ-has had 12 years to reform the prison system -build more prisons, etc.
    TODAY Chavez told Valera:
    “Chavez told Valera that prisons must undergo drastic changes.
    “Prisons must be centers of formation of the New Man,” Chavez said, referring to revolutionary-minded citizens dedicated to the advancement of communist or socialist ideals.’
    What a load of horse manure!!
    Chavez is going to free a bunch of criminals -who will vote for him..
    Just watch, anyone want to bet?

  19. We are all buying an assumption still to be tested: MCM cannot win against Chavez. Politics can sometimes be very surprising. Who would have thought that an african american named Barak Hussein Obama could win in such a racist country! Conventional wisdom would have told you that he did not have a chance.

    She definitely has huge obstacles in her way. She is going at this without the support of a political machinery and has a very thin resume, but who knows, her campaign could catch on. Although there does not seem to be any sign that she is gaining any traction I am very happy she is laying out a contrasting alternative. I admire her and wish her the best of luck! Perhaps this is not her time.

    As far as PP, the dead weight of AD & Copei may be too much for him to carry. In some ways it will be useful for the post primary campaign for Capriles to come out as a reformer while PP gets stuck with the 4th republic stink.

    LL is definitely the wild card. I’ve got the feeling that he is going to surge in the polls.

    In any case, it is great that we have good options and as the campaign heats up the agenda will revolve less and less around Esteban, although he will probably find a way to be the center of attention again…

  20. “the agenda will revolve less and less around Esteban, although he will probably find a way to be the center of attention again…” -yes- Chavez cannot share the stage, cannot resist interrupting, disrupting
    othrs. Even if it means making a fool out of himself, (which is standard behavior)Chavez gets
    dramatic and stupid like no other. Must drive his Cuban handlers crazy even..

  21. “the agenda will revolve less and less around Esteban”.
    After 12 years,the people around Chavez are not well accepted,
    not well known, not able to perform their duties. Oh, they are
    quick to humiliate themselves before the whole world in the
    name of Chavez, but, doing a good job at what they are supposed
    to be doing, no, not one does that.
    And, why are “el pueblo” not tired of hearing the same stuff
    over and over from Chavez. By the way-when is his next trip to
    Cuba? Any time now. (Also, it is Sunday again.What kind of
    showstopper from Chavez this week?Or two?)

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