Surgical mask chronicles


I was going to write a lengthy post about the MUD’s decision to anoint a bunch of incompetent, nepotist hacks as their candidates for important posts.

I thought about discussing the short-sighted wisdom of shielding important opposition states from genuine competition.

But I won’t.

The term I keep hearing is “surgical mask.” Whether it’s in Maracaibo or Valencia, a lot of people are saying that the MUD’s smoke-filled shenanigans are forcing us to vote for people we don’t really like. Certain incumbents are given preferential treatment, we follow along as sheep, and vote while covering our noses.

The MUD obviously thinks avoiding the hassle of a primary outweighs any cost from alienating a portion of its base. But are they right?

This brought me back to a post Guido wrote a few weeks ago and was sitting in my Inbox. I finally decided to edit and post it, because it says what many are thinking.

Take it away, Guido.


Close Encounters of the Jerk Kind, by Guido David Núñez Mujica

One of my perennial frustrations with most Venezuelan opposition politicians is that they act as if they had learned nothing from the last 12 years.

Of course, there are some new people that seem different and apparently got the memo. But they are a sad minority.

Most of our local politicians, the ones on our side, are still hopelessly trapped in a political model that brought us a lot of woe and provides dim hope for the future.

Three months ago I was traveling from Trujillo to Mérida with a close friend. We drove up the Trasandina road (in terrible disrepair, I’m afraid), and stopped for a cup of coffee and some cake at the little restaurant in the Pico El Águila, the highest point of the Trasandina.

As I entered and tried to recover from the lack of oxygen, I noticed a group of loud people surrounding someone. Everybody was young, pretty and cheerful. I ignored the group and went to get my coffee.

“Did you see the mayor?” said my friend. I hadn’t.

The person in the middle of the ruckus was the mayor of Mérida, Dr. Léster Rodriguez, former President of my university, and an old copeyano hand.

This man is a very incompetent mayor, more interested in promoting his campaign to be governor of the state now that William Dávila is out of the way than in making Mérida a better town.

Streets in my city lie covered in trash. Bad traffic management systems and police in weird places rather than in crime-prone areas have all been “achievements” of Lester’s administration.

Sure, the Chavista mayor wasn’t any better, but people like Lester make it hard to argue that the Opposition means change and improvement for people’s well-being.

I have a very big mouth, and I actually enjoy telling people in power, in the rare occasions that I encounter them, exactly what I think. I honestly believe that people in power need to be confronted with their flaws in governing so that democracy can function. Sadly, most people just smile and bow as politicians surround themselves with chirpy sycophants.

Since I view my unconstrained verbiage as a civic duty, I grabbed at the chance to let him know what I thought. When Lester got closer, I told him “Good afternoon, Mr. Mayor. I’d like to ask you why if you are an opposition guy you keep behaving like Chávez and pasting your mug all over town.”

Lester wasn’t happy. It seems he is not used to those types of questions. He flatly denied that there were posters with his face in town, and one of his boot-lickers nodded in approval. I then “reminded” him of the poster with his face at the Mérida bus terminal and the whole street lane closed by barriers with his mug on it.

His response? Well, it’s much less than what Chavistas do.

That was his lame excuse. Like a fifth-grader caught with a chuleta, his argument is simply that the other guys do it, and they do it more often.

In order to get away with their incompetence, all these jerks need to do is remind us of the Chavista boogey man. One mention of that, and they get our vote. Indeed, as I was leaving the restaurant the mayor yelled at us: “you will see my face again in the ballot next elections!”

I’m sure I will. We are hostages of these petty men and women, expecting our obedience and gratitude because they keep the chavista monster at bay, even if they are similar in their self-service and arrogance.

I am not sure if I will see his smirk on the ballot. I might not return to Mérida by 2012, or I might be there working. But if I am there, I guess I will be taking my surgical mask to the polling station yet another time.

Until I get tired of doing so, and stay home altogether.

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  1. I ponder about the same thing. Even after Chavez is no longer a president (or a living man) the Chavez’s gang is still going to be around. When are we going to stop worrying about the boogie man? Are we (oppo peeps and CC readers) mature enough to vote for a PSUV candidate over a MUD candidate when the latter seems to be a worse evil?

    In regards to this sentence: “Of course, there are some new people that seem different and apparently got the memo. But they are a sad minority.” When I read it, I can only feel guilt, because the truth is that those (like some people who participate in this forum, including yours truly) got the memo but we cannot get our selves to truly immerse ourselves in that profession. Many of the individuals that you see running for public office or working in them are motivated by the public funds that they will control, or perhaps fame and public recognition. I don’t aspire either. For an honest man, the sacrifices seem too high and the rewards too small.

    I felt I have contributed in the past. I feel a contribute now in my role as an engineer, but I don’t know what could make me tip, and go all the way and become a public servant and deal with minions of corrupt, incompetent, blood sucking politicians

    • Lame… really lame, this person likes what is happening in the country nowadays and he seems in content with the “Minions of Corrupt, incompetent, unprepared, blood sucking PSUV politicians running the country today!

  2. Fact-Check: There is no MUD consensus regarding either the Merida Governorship nor its Municipio Libertador. So Mr. Guido Nuñez could vote in such primaries against Mr. Lester, and he could come out of that breathing the fresh paramo air.

    The only consensus reached in Merida is in Municipio Arzobispo Chacon.

  3. That’s why I hate politics here, it’s all about caudillismo. They just make it all related to the person in charge, putting his or her picture everywhere, forgetting that is the institution what really matters.

    Here in Lara is the same deal: The governor puts his face on everything, then the mayor of Barquisimeto does the same to the point of nausea. I lived on Maracaibo earlier and the same thing: Dimartino did it and Rosales doubled it down.

    Guido described my feelings perfectly. Thank you, sir.

    • What makes a politician tick? How are they different from common folks?

      Distrust of politicians is a normal thing. No society trusts them, and this usually drives out of their ranks the most able citizens, who feel -somehow- that they are above the fray. That the political culture they live in is to be viewed with contempt.

      However, most politicians are neither corrupt nor inept: they are at the same time idealistic and Machiavellian. They all enjoy the politicking, the campaigning, the power, and believe they hold id for the glory and good of all. And every now and then one comes along and reminds us that, in fact, most politicians do work -through ambition, guile and sheer perseverance- for the common good.

      If they did not have ambition or gumption, how could they win in such a competitive profession?

  4. Rodrigo: after the 2007 referendum I had hoped that we would enter a period of normalisation. A “Puntofijo redux”, if you will, promoting a political truce and letting the fangs of either faction recede to find some middle ground.

    But the PSUV, as it is, is not prone to political defeats and alternability -the only characteristics which would help to figure it as a lesser evil-… Political competition is the only way we could “normalise” this, but in 2008 I lost hope of seeing the PSUV admitting defeat quietly: what they did to Ledezma, to the Miranda Governorship, and so on.

    Alas, could the opposition afford to do the same as it reaches office?

  5. Guido, excellent comment. Further, all it takes for any self respecting and critical guy to get forevermore disgusted with Venezuelan politicos, is, really, to hang around with them for a couple of hours. Or see them in action. It takes a special kind of uncritical comemierda to put up with all that.

    However, your comment leads me to another point. Then, what’s the solution? There isn’t, unless, of course, you decide to enter the fray, and build your own movement, with like-minded people. But this leads us to the third, huge, issue. How many “like-minded” people are out there Guido?

    Surgical overalls will have to be worn for many, many, years, if not generations, to come.

      • You don’t need to. There are already UCM clubs galore in Venezuela. You just have to choose the one that shares your favourite ideology colour.

    • Guido, Awesome post.

      Alek Boyd,

      Taoist saying: if you can’t fight a guy who has a stick, try taking away the stick.

      Part of the power that these politicians wield is money. We need to get the money out of their hands.

      Another part of the power they wield is that there is a very large number of them. We need to reduce their number by making government smaller. In addition to reducing government’s size by reducing its money, simplifying reduces the number of people in government, that is the number of points of failure, thus reducing their power in numbers.

      Another part of their power is the unbounded power of the laws we allow government to enact. In addition to what that can be reduced by reducing the government’s money, using the power of referendums can force away laws that give them too much power, or force them into laws that would limit their powers. If we consider the math of the laws of referendums, you don’t need that large a number of “like-minded” people, only enough to force the referendum, and then a majority of those willing to get up and go vote the day of a referendum.

      • Part of the power that these politicians wield is money. We need to get the money out of their hands.

        Which is la arrechera que le tienen al Chavez, that he took the stick, y la piñata tambien, and left the Lesters with a much restricted access to money. As Guido points out, the minute the Lesters get their hands in the cookie jar, is back to good old “lo que nada nos cuesta, hagamoslo fiesta.” Lather, rinse and repeat…

        • And what money do these politicians control now? They do not have access to public funds for their campaigns (and if you answer that there are funds from the Alcaldías and Governorships, consider that the kinds of contratista-based corruption is almost impossible due to the limits imposed on the tasks privy to those offices.

          In any case, why hasn’t there been an organised alternative from civil society to the parties? That is how these parties became parties in the first place. When we tried to substitute the parties for Mass Media outlets and civil society organisations, we floundered and let Chavismo further his grip on society.

          But, if all we have is lather rinse and repeat, why not vote for Chavismo? that’s the comfortable vote (and the one Chavismo expects society to make once again next year).

          • “But, if all we have is lather rinse and repeat, why not vote for Chavismo? that’s the comfortable vote (and the one Chavismo expects society to make once again next year).”

            I’m seriously considering that would be the better choice for Zulia next year. Francisco Arias Cárdenas was a better Governor than Eveling de Rosales is as a mayor.

          • “I’m seriously considering that would be the better choice for Zulia next year. Francisco Arias Cárdenas was a better Governor than Eveling de Rosales is as a mayor.”

            Be careful of what you wish for. That Arias Cardenas is dead and buried.

        • Oye Guillermo, don’t take it personally mate, it wasn’t intended that way.

          Now then, you can’t deny that there’s a guachafita going on. You can’t deny that it is nigh on impossible for any decent people to “make it” in the current political party structures. And, above all else, you can’t deny that if you are a critical, clean, and efficient person, a person committed to the benefit of society, rather than to own, then it is impossible to work within party structures. So the only option left, as you say, is to come up with something new.

          But then, how do you feed the family, pay rent, bills, etc? The system is rotten, and there’s no viable alternative, unless you are Michael Bloomberg. That ain’t going to happen. As you know, there’s aplenty sifrinos con real in politics nowadays, HCR, LL< MCM, but can anyone of them mount anything half capable and coherent without governorship, alcaldias, etc., money? Can they compete, on that basis, with the £2 trillion thug?

          Hence, surgical overalls for ever.

          • I’m sorry, Alek, but I’ve had that call all my life: “your father is a politician, so all you have has the stench of corruption on it”. It’s not personal, but it hits close to home.

            I’ve known scores of politicians in my life, and some of their sons. Of course I saw some horrible, nasty and indelicate things, but mostly I’ve seen regular and honest folks and regular families and very little fortune, and yet some of them highly intelligent and ferociously committed to their work, whose drive and ambition –and ultimate goals- balance out the other shortcomings of less competitive professions.

            The pressure to recoil from being a politician is intense, though, and you see very little political career “legacies” in Venezuela: Apart from the Calderas and the Salas, there’s nothing else to show (and perhaps that’s for the better). We might never get Bushes, Kennedys or Gores (or Uribes, or Santoses, or Pastranas) some other countries have. And perhaps that is why politics as a profession is so misunderstood.

            I’m not a politician, as I lack the thick-skin needed for such remorseless job. Perhaps that is why these last week shenanigans have irked me: if you compete politically, you take the good with the bad and, unless you build up the power-base to succeed, you take your defeats in stride. There will always be more losses than victories, after all.

          • “The pressure to recoil from being a politician is intense, though, and you see very little political career “legacies” in Venezuela: Apart from the Calderas and the Salas, there’s nothing else to show (and perhaps that’s for the better).”

            You forgot the Rosaleses and the Chávezes, Oh, and the Montillas in Falcón …

          • Guillermo, I can only speak about what I have seen. I will agree with you, that there are noble people in politics: both my grandfathers were deeply involved in politics, and let me assure you, all they had, both in life and left as legacy, was an unmovable and steadfast commitment to principle and morals. No money whatsoever.

            But I have seen my share of Venezuelan politicos, and I am yet to meet the first one that could be put in the compartment of the honourable beyond doubt. That is my experience. I don’t know your father, and won’t doubt what you say about him. But we are talking about people from other times. The question continues to be: where are those TODAY? If you do know them, please share their names, I would love to lend whatever support I can!

  6. Interesting topic. It was my understanding that Lester Rodriguez, ex dean of ULA, is a very popular mayor. Let´s see if we can find polls for this region.

  7. The MUD bylaw indicates that those candidates with support of 55% or more of the opposition voters represented in the Legislative elections of 2010 may be elected by the consensus of the parties representing that percentage.

    So in Carabobo, Zulia, Lara, Nueva Esparta, and Tachira, there is consensus. Those were the rules, we accepted them, we didn’t complain at the moment, so we ought to not complain now.

    In the other post we were having a discussion about Scarano (Mayor of San Diego and strong incumbent for Carabobo). Someone mentioned that he wasn’t very observant of the law. I admire his position that regardless of being right, regardless of the people in Carabobo being tired of the Salas clan, we signed an agreement and we must abide to it.

    Seriously, who would defeat UNT in Zulia? Even outside the MUD they could beat PSUV. Don’t get mad at me, just go to 2010 elections and see it for yourself.

    • OK, I suppose you are right, but this means, in the end, that if we go on like this we will be perpetuating those local caudillos until our sun becomes a white dwarf or Venezuelans stop being so corrupt, whichever comes first.

      Now, look below to the votes for every gang party, including the two that directly stand for the Salas-Feo dynasty (Proyecto Venezuela and Proyecto Carabobo).

      Did voters really go for them? No, they didn’t. People have so far voted for the main gang party out of fear of missing their way in the myriad of gangs parties we have
      PRVZL 221.122 Votos 24,43 %
      CUENTAS CLARAS 69.608 Votos 7,69 %
      PROCA 44.126 Votos 4,87 %
      AD 30.753 Votos 3,39 %
      M.P.J. 22.309 Votos 2,46 %
      U.N.T.C. 15.923 Votos 1,75 %
      PODEMOS 11.990 Votos 1,32 %
      C.O.P.E.I. 11.439 Votos 1,26 %
      POR MI PUEBLO 6.248 Votos 0,69 %
      MIN-UNIDAD 5.694 Votos 0,62 %
      NOE 4.090 Votos 0,45 %
      PMV 3.495 Votos 0,38 %
      SI 3.423 Votos 0,37 %
      BR 3.175 Votos 0,35 %
      OPINA 2.949 Votos 0,32 %
      U.R.D. 2.707 Votos 0,29 %
      M.R. 2.677 Votos 0,29 %
      CONENZO 2.168 Votos 0,23 %
      A.B.P. 1.655 Votos 0,18 %
      UNPARVE 1.513 Votos 0,16 %
      MAS 1.448 Votos 0,15 %
      LA CAUSA R 1.273 Votos 0,14 %
      USTED 1.267 Votos 0,13 %
      CAMINA 1.189 Votos 0,13 %
      VP 994 Votos 0,10 %
      PANA 987 Votos 0,10 %
      SEGUIMOS 903 Votos 0,09 %
      PCP 823 Votos 0,09 %
      F.L. 801 Votos 0,08 %
      VIVZLA 720 Votos 0,07 %
      ML 702 Votos 0,07 %
      CONDE 648 Votos 0,07 %
      LA PLATAFORMA 643 Votos 0,07 %
      VDP 634 Votos 0,07 %
      U.S.P. 624 Votos 0,06 %
      PIEDRA 532 Votos 0,05 %
      DR 525 Votos 0,05 %
      DP 498 Votos 0,05 %
      FG 493 Votos 0,05 %
      CIAREVA 479 Votos 0,05 %
      PSOEV 464 Votos 0,05 %
      CLARIDAD 391 Votos 0,04 %
      EL 288 Votos 0,03 %

      • Kepler: if PV got an alliance that adds up to 55%, they could reach consensus. It’s not like anything was bestowed upon Salas or anything.

        Incidentally, PV got 24% of the overall vote. The 55% figure pertains the percentage of opposition votes, so PV is in higher ground.

      • If we defeat Chavez in 2012, there is no need to worry anymore about Chavismo governing Carabobo. I told my family that in the scenario of Capriles winning the Presidency for instance, don’t go to vote for el pollo, vote nill, or if there is a third candidate that seems like a hard working person go for it.

        Even if the Chavista is an efficient worker (i,e, Vielma Mora), go and vote for it.

        Once Chavez is defeated, we have to defeat our own regional Chavez.

          • Los Guayos is a lost cause anyways… it’s sad because I know that people in Los Guayos want something better than what they have right now.

          • Los Guayos is a lost case because we want that to be. I know people there very well. Yes, there are still lots of Chavistas specially in the new slums that have grown up around the old town, but: what do you expect when the alternative forces NEVER, EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER go there? (well, they did for a second in 2008). Those who vote for the alternative forces do so in spite of said alternative forces. There would be many more if those “forces” had the guts to appear there and present their programme.

            Los Guayos is the municipality with the highest population density in Carabobo. You can get to the middle of Los Guayos on a normal car by getting off the Panamericana in just 10 minutes. It is just north of Valencia’s airport…and yet our national leaders have never been there. El Pollo would never go there. Borges, who has family in El Trigal and has to use the Panamericana to go there, doesn’t visit Los Guayos.
            Is Los Guayos lost? In 2010 we got more votes in Guacara than Chavistas. We did that not because of El Pollo but because of very low key people who didn’t feel asco to go there and talk to people and listen to people and help them to vote (a lot of people still do not have cars)

            And now they put again a loser just because the Salas clan said so. I suppose it’s like: “ok, I won’t bother again to put one of mine in Valencia but you give me the rest of the municipios but San Diego”

          • Kep,
            Maybe I missed a part, but the notitarde piece says that Los Guayos is going to have a primary election, so I do not understand what your rant is about.

          • My big fault, I overlooked the second name, just saw this Darwyn character. I need to improving my reading skills :{

            Still, it is quite depressing we are having as candidates yet again a loser or an adeco. There are about 90000 voters there and those are the candidates they can come up with?
            Why aren’t new parties like PJ and UNT able to gain foot there and cannot even put forward a candidate? It is not like Los Guayos is South of San Fernando de Apure.

  8. Good info and like I have said before with clowns like these running in the Pail and Shovel primary of the MUD( thats just what you have on your faces) its a good time to buy those tickets to Miami or Doral and get out of Dodge.


    • It’s too soon for that, but it could happen.

      (Actually, I doubt it. My dad works for Pablo Pérez, so I am effectively bozal-de-arepa’d)

      • Well JC,
        I guess the derecho a pataleo is a human right. Anyway, there is something that makes me a little uneasy to see in your analysis (and the one before on the Miranda primaries), that is that you are making complete disregard of the rules agreed by every single party within the MUD, and judging only by the outcomes.
        As I see it, that set of rules is the only element giving stability to a very fragile equilibrium, a fine act of balancing party aspirations to consolidate regional leaderships, the emergence of new actors, media pressures, and civil society demands (all of them very legitimate aims, btw). So rules are important factor structuring what we all know is the only pre-condition necessary and sufficient to win in OCT-12: Unity. That is why I think that portraying the observed outcomes (some of them suck, agreed) as the result only of smoke-filled shenanigans is just not only misleading, but completely not true. Au contraire, my friend, I think is the total opposite of that: outcomes observed are the result of the application of a very transparent and public set of rules (I learnt in college that rules are the opposite discretionary decisions). By the way, the particular rule that set that you will need at least 45% of the vote to call for a primary in a state/municipality was approved by 100% of the parties in the MUD and not denounced by anyone (including CCs).
        Beside, there is also the matter of very limited resources within the oppo camp. I guess we should care about the efficient allocation of our efforts. Our limited resources should not be wasted challenging a strong very dominant regional incumbent party that would kick the ass of ANYONE who challenge him (oh wait, we already did that, and man, it was a waste of time and money, see>–Eveling-Trejo-gan–primarias-en-Maracaibo ).

        So I guess its time for calma y cordura, we will have primaries in 19/23 states and at least 276/345 municipalities. If this is not a half-filled glass, I dunno what to expect.

  9. You’re right, the rules are being applied fairly, they were agreed upon by everyone, and all that. I’m glad they’re ensuring unity.

    PS.- ¡Arias Cárdenas gobernador!

  10. Well the opposition is still a style of the old politic ways to rule things here, but without hesitation the MUD is a way to liberate the country from a much defined control over everything in the country by one man and his cronies allowed by the current servant politicians, it’s a light at the end of the tunnel if we VENEZUELANS start acting up and change things for better ourselves instead of waiting for the politicians and the people in power. Hoping that B “the MUD” doesn’t turn into A “PSUV”… I will toss my decision to the MUD option considering that I rather have a CIVILIAN Government, compared to a MILITARY in disguise one which it’s what we have now. Never has a Military man being able to rule a country with success and it’s a fact proven by history. So, yes, The MUD might have many downfalls but any candidate emerging from them will be much better than continue having a man in power that is giving the country’s resources to his followers around the continent, and being the piggy bank for Cuba and its leaches

  11. It’s been called for many years “la forma adeca de hacer politica”. What surprises me is the naiveté to believe that Chavez is different. Chavez is adeco with a bigger and longer cash flow and some more caapcity to act wito no brakes.

    There is no state building or major change in the oppo camp proposals. Just yesterday, Lilian Tintori was promising something like “everybody will be feed”.

    When most people buy that the difference is her good looks, but not the “proposal”, for sure they just want a little change. A better looking politician but nothing else.

    So little has changed in us….

  12. I was just going to say that the chavista propaganda routinely carries on, about the nepotist hacks, paleo-adecos and old-guard dinosaurs from the Punto Fijo Pact returning, if the opposition wins the elections. This is embellished by their depiction as Evil Empire(r) lackeys who will effect a re-colonization.

    So, the message goes, go and vote Hugo Chavez and for anyone that gets his/her hands raised boxing-champion style by the Leader. Elect OUR nepotist hacks and ideological (if not in age, in mind) dinosaurs. Or else…

    You are back to square one, 1989.

    Please remember that most Venezuelans have no idea of what Revolutionary Socialism means, do not know about the consequences in other places. They might have experienced some recent negative experiences, an oil boom and populist spending labeled as Socialism. The rest of what they know about Socialism is propaganda, ALL positive and rosy-eyed. In the distant past from almost all the now-opposition (they even praised Cuba and rushed to label every Welfare State in Europe as Socialist) , in the present from chavismo.

    BUT, THEY DO KNOW VERY WELL HOW IT WAS IN 1989-92, or have somebody close by who can tell them what happened.

    Knowing who is least-worse, who has no ideological trash in the head, where history has led us, who is really giving away Venezuela to keep in power, I will sigh, take a breath, hold my nose and vote.

    However I did think that unity candidacies meant acceptable candidates, even for disenchanted chavistas. Not that the opposition had a collective geas on it to say the same lines as their counterpart in this tragedy for two.

    I am relieved to see that Capriles tries to not even mention Chavez and chavismo. And to not run a fear-based campaign where “everyone and everything I push down your throat is better than the alternative”.

  13. I’m surprised no one has even mentioned the one word that makes oppo candidates better than chavistas one:


    Let’s be clear, the MUD, unity, the October 2012 election, perhaps Chavez’ dead. It’s all a hard and perilous road towards the recovery of democracy with all that it entails like rule of law, institutions, decentralization and political alternance in our country.

    To not know why an oppo candidate is better than a PSUV one is to have lost sight of the objective and to have forgotten the sad state our country is in and where is going to. Even if Arias Cardenas was a better governor than Trejo he backs the status quo: a megalomaniac dictator that has brought division and destruction to our country and wants to remain in power forever. In fact he soooo wishes to take his place in the future. Do you really want to give more power and resources to that project?

    Being an oppo candidate is not a guarantee of good managerial skills and clean politics. Oppo candidates in general are going to be politicians as usual no better or worse, but at least they don’t back the dictatorial project. In democracy you can slowly weed out the bad majors, incompetent governors, the corrupt politicians, but with Chavez they thrive instead. After democracy is restored and institutions are more or less functioning then go and vote happily for PSUV candidates if you like, but for now, if you do, know that you would only be helping Chavez’ project..

    • Finally the voice of reason… You can find incompetent politicians, corruption, backroom dealing and cronyism in almost every democratic regime and Venezuela – unfortunately – is not the exception. I’m not asking to ignore that sort of things, but I believe the thing that we shouldn’t forget is that we’re not choosing between two democratic parties like amieres points out. We’re choosing between democracy – imperfect as it may be – and autocracy.
      I can be as cynic as the most, but I do know that I will vote against Chavez and his cronies each and every time because they’re not democrats.

      • There’s no way to know, because we don’t have a crystal ball to predict the future or a mind-reading machine to know what they’re actually thinking. The only thing we can do is to check the track record of the candidates, get to know them better and hope for the best.
        Why have I never voted for Chavez? Because the guy betrayed the promise he made as military officer, the guy was willing to kill people to reach power, the guy was unapologetic about it and the guy praised the communist regime.
        Unfortunately, even in a democracy, sometimes you can only choose between the least of two evils. Remember Arias Cardenas vs. Chavez? I didn’t like it at all, but I vote for the least of the two evils.
        If you don’t like your options, you’re free to do whatever you can to change it. But do not forget that you can only do that freely in democracy.

      • Let’s straighten out our priorities.
        First and foremost is combating the current autocrat in power, then we can worry about others that may have similar wishes. But very few people have what it takes to become an autocrat like Chavez did. It’s not enough to have the inclination. Those on chavismo surely have that inclination and are already actively supporting a dictator so there’s no doubt we should never vote for them.

        • Excellent comment Amieres…I have pretty much lost the patience to keep saying this, but it apparently needs to be said over and over… so thanx

          Many people get lost in details and side tracks while forgetting the big picture.Many forget to align priorities into a workable list.

    • Yes,

      We are in opposition to Chavez for very clear reasons, and honestly have nothing to gain other than a return of democracy to Venezuela. Doubts and all, we will still vote with conscience. We are the choir.

      But I don’t think the argument carries water with most Venezuelans. The majority that has voted Chavez before, who do not see him as a tyrant. The majority that don’t know world history and have only heard positive things about Socialism. The majority who actually know by own experience or by reliable account instead, that in 1988-1998 Venezuela was not going well, while Punto Fijo Pact representatives such as CAP and Caldera ran the country.

      It’s a practical matter. More so because chavismo scares it’s voters by telling them that an opposition vote is a vote for 1989.

      To the extent that Venezuelans outside the boundaries of the opposition don’t have proof that we have something different than in 1989, Hugo Chavez and the PSUV have won the emotional choice election. He already has the financial aspect cornered…

      • I was thinking of Kepler all along, when I wrote this response and the comment above. About people in Los Guayos and Parapara. Both in a geographic and mental sense.

        The folks who don’t get the messages aimed at “hardcore” opposition people. Who live outside of the big cities and out of reach of opposition message and out of reach new leaders who don’t go out there to meet them. Who get to watch live! the opposition in the worst light possible: old “puntofijista” ways of doing politics and the old politicians who practice them. The folks who don’t know why Socialism is bad news for them, as it has always been presented in a positive light to them. Sometimes as a disguise for populism and freebies, sometimes as mislabeling for welfare states, sometimes as propaganda about what goes on in Cuba. Who have a dim view of the 1988-1998 decade and who value Chavez because he attempted to end it early.

        • Los Guayos has about 90 000 voters…all in 73 km2…more than 60% of Venezuela’s population lives actually in similar places. Los Guayos or Puerto Cabello or Punto Fijo are the first places we need to go now, well before going to talk in Chacao or in Parapara Upon Parapara. Try to talk to somebody in those places about the last thing they read in a newspaper or on the Internet. Curiously: Los Guayos is not even that far, you pass next to it on your way to Morrocoy…same as Puerto Cabello.

  14. It’s as it ever was. Venezuela is a country filled with people who abhor Chavez and his cronies, but who would turn around and do exactly the same thing if given the chance. Why? Because “with me it would be different”. Absolute power is not bad, it’s just that the wrong guy has it this time.

    • A friend of mine – left the country the last year – tells me everytime we talk about politics in Venezuela that Chavez is nothing but a symptom of something far worse that ails the country. Like Rafael Poleo says: Venezuela is nothing but a gold mine full of prospectors trying to get rich and get out of there ASAP. What happens with the mine after the prospector gets rich is the least of his concern. Can we change that attitude?
      Even if Chavez leaves tomorrow the country, our country will not improve overnight. I’m not as fatalistic as my friend, but I have to admit that the required overhaul will take years, if not decades.
      The autocratic model was probably fine in the 50’s and 60’s, but I think it’s outdated. In the 90’s we tried succesfully some decentralization, so perhaps we should go that way. Less power for the government and more for the regular guy.

      • I have always said it: Chávez is just tuberculosis, Venezuela has sociocultural and socioeconomic AIDS. That AIDS is leading to that TB now, but it can lead to much more.
        Chávez was a golem we concocted with very predictable material: the military, the Llanos people, the left in a country where left and right are just feudal.

        Venezuelans haven’t changed that much since part of our ancestors were getting those pearls in Cubagua and since that mestizo Fajardo decided to try his luck in central Venezuela and since those who depleted those pearls opted then to go to Coro and Tocuyo to get some encomiendas.

        And things get pretty bad because Venezuelans in general haven’t got a clue about their history and our world history. Even historians seem to see only trees or whatever object they studied for their thesis. There is no real vision, no discussion about where we have been going and where we are heading. Venezuelans don’t seem to have a desire to have a developed country. At most they speak about una Venezuela bonita and a cuánto hay pa’ eso here and now. There is no open debate about how to avoid past errors. We are like the proverbial dog going back to his vomit.
        Not that I give much about ideologies, but Venezuelans, earlier than others, went directly from pure feudal society to professing what Kundera called imagology…instead of ideological content, it’s about images.

  15. One word-cancer. Until the mention of cancer, Chavez was obsessed with_______?
    Answer: Missiles. yes there was talk about Russian base and russian missiles (and people were
    comparing to Cuban Missile Crisis- a repeat?) And, of course, Iranian missiles and Iranians
    to operate the missile bases..Also, maybe a reason Chavez wanted contacts with N.Korea was/is
    to buy missiles ??
    Anyway, cancer is now the center of Chavez’s world-even though he claims to be “cancer-free”.
    Now, of course, Chavez is allowing the opposition to sort of build up against him.
    So, is this a “useful distraction”-allowing the opposition to have a bit of the spotlight?
    Reason I say this is,Chavez will not allow himself to lose a. or b.chavista movement will
    install another Cuba puppet if Chavez becomes very ill or dies before the election.
    Does anyone really expect a free and transparent election next year?

  16. Who is held responsible for bad loans by Venezuela to Cuba, for example?
    Who’s head is on the line for this?Is Cuba going to pay Venezuela back?
    Ha HA No way, Jose! So, who is the clown that keeps authorizing more loans
    and grants for Cuba? Ask the Paris Club when they expect to get their money back
    from Cuba. Did Russia finally cut off all funding to Cuba completely? And France.
    Not to worry, US is beginning to fund Cuba even more and looks like US is going to
    start funding Bolivia again. Maybe the US will even give huge grants to Nicaragua?
    Anyway, after over a decade of Chavez trash-talking and trying to hurt the USA-
    after Chvez , US will come rushing back in to help rescue Venezuela in a big way.
    Not to worry, Venezuelans, don’t have to do anything, can still kiss up to Castro.
    Uncle Sam will fix everything for you…

  17. Has anyone in Venezuela ever wondered-“Why does Chavez think Cuba
    is such a rosy, Paradise?” Do Venezuelans believe that? How many Venzuelans do you
    know who visit Cuba for vacation?ANd in Venezuela -nobody wants to call Chavez
    “ruler”- no let’s call him “miCommandante” and nobody wants to be called “peasants”
    let’s call them “el pueblo”. THis is just DOUBLESPEAK-like in the book 1984-George Orwell.

    • It`s not that everybody decided to call him “comandante”. He is in fact, a comandante. That is the title given to Lieutenant Colonels, which he is. Besides, in the military world, at least in Venezuela, they call superiors using a possessive article first, as in “my general”, “my commander”, and so on. So, “mi comandante” is a reflex on his military background and also on his insistence on acting as a military. And I would not rule out, as a “homage” to Cuba and to Fidel Castro. It is their followers who call him “mi comandante”.

      As for peasants, Venezuela has been for many years one of the most urbanized countries of the continent. Peasants are not very common. And calling poor people “el pueblo” is not to avoid calling them “peasants”. They are not opposite. At most, it is a populist and leftist name, used by most governments in Venezuela (and I would say, the continent) for a long time. Even when there were many more peasants around.


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