16D: Hercules vs. the Stockholm Syndrome

My money is on the hydra

Now, because you’re reading this blog, it’s a safe bet that you’re really into Venezuelan politics and, more than likely, take a strong tribal stance on the whole Govt/Oppo thing.

But set that aside for the next five minutes and try to imagine yourself as a totally dispassionate, purely instrumental, who’s-going-to-fix-the-potholes-on-my-street type of voter. Who would you then vote for in the gubernatorial elections on December 16th, the PSUV candidate, or the oppo guy?

To me, the answer is clear. My local chavista candidate may well be a semi-literate incompetent and very possibly a crook, too, but backing the opposition is ensuring my gobernación breaks down irretrievably.

Even assuming my local MUD candidate isn’t himself corrupt or incompetent – by no means always a safe assumption – I know that I’d end up with a guy who spends 90% of his time in office in a series of rear-guard skirmishes against antejuicios de merito, doomed-from-the-word-go squabbles over Situado transfers and, if I’m lucky, Herculean efforts to provide an extremely limited set of services in the face of a concerted campaign of obstruction and escamoteo de competencias from a National Government with a very well established track record of pulling the trigger on such threats.

For a few masochists out there, Herculean feats might sound like a good and noble use of the scarce resources in the hands of their regional administration. But we shouldn’t kid ourselves: the only reason they’d go for that is tribal anti-chavismo. I don’t mean that as a criticism, mind you. Some of my best friends are tribal anti-chavistas. It’s just that there aren’t that many of us.

My sense is that, for less-tribal voters, 16D is not a particularly hard choice. You’re in a kind of hostage situation. The hostage-taker has already demonstrated he’s willing make good on his threats if need be. In the movies, that’s the queue for Bruce Willis to come rapelling down the side of the building with all guns blazin’. But this ain’t the movies, and it’s very recently been made clear that there’s nobody out there willing or able to come rescue us.

A more succinct way to say this is that, in an important sense, 16D already happened…on 7O. In splitting the elections, chavismo gambled big, knowing a presidential win would likely deliver 22 or 23 governorships to PSUV as well.

And it won big.

The rest is a tramite.

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  1. Who said it would be easy. Was it easy to get rid of the USSR, Hitler, Mussolini, Pinochet, Perez Jimenez, Franco, Gomez, Machado, Rumania, Poland, Hungary, East Germany and so many others. So what do I do keep on fighting or bury my head in the sand or move to the space station
    Eduardo Rivero

  2. If you take your dispassionate stance, you may ask whether that assumption – the officialista candidate will at least get us the crumbs from the table whilst the other guy won’t be able to, however well intentioned – is borne out: I ask you, have the rojo-rojito states benefitted detectably over the others? Besides, however dispassionate you may be, you’re still in danger of having retained some human characteristics and thus might even so be tainted by a “good guys’; or not?” [thinks: wasn’t there similar scenario after the mudlsides in Vargas when that García Carneiro chap was in the running?]

    • Garcia Carneiro has been only governor since 2008. Antonio Rodriguez San Juan (Chavista) was Vargas governor from 2000 to 2008.

      Your overall point is still valid.

  3. Chavez won in 2006 with a far larger majority than in 2012, and with increasing oil prices and spending. So how come the opposition had many significant victories in the 2008 regional elections, including taking Miranda from no less than Diosdado Cabello and Petare from Jesse Chacón?

    • What you say is true. In soccer terms the opposition lost 5 – 1 in 2006 and only 3 – 1 in 2012. It makes no difference – it is still worth three points and the Copa. Stop grasping at straws and there could be another bog mloss looming for the opposition on 16 D.

  4. Welcome to the pessimist’s club. We don’t want more members but they appear to gravitate this way ever more often. In rational terms, I agree that we are in a hostage situation and at this time (like in any other time) it is all about survival. Ideological discussions are for suckers. If you are not much into rational analyses, then you may agree with the horrible statement made by Orlando Urdaneta.

  5. I’m coming back , after 3 years of being away.
    through maiquetia to caracas.
    Will my aeropuerto taxista-carrito bring me to LaTrinidad safely?
    Do I take getting mugged as a given?
    Can I rent a car?
    Will my acquaintances coldshoulder me for living abroad?
    What I mean, are you all a bunch of pessimistic masochists,
    living in a nightmarish este de caracas, or do you still
    manage to enjoy life, flirt with destiny and make dreams come true?
    Should I even think of coming back? Yours truly, Expat

    • I’m coming back
      Should I even think of coming back?

      Are you telling me or asking me? Which one is it?
      If the first, then you might consider starting a blog. That is, to include your observations and interactions.

      I’d suggest the same to Arturo, but I suspect his interactions are more with his keyboard than with outside realities.

      • …you left 3 years not 30 years…
        true, nothing’s changed, but I have. Living in the north has been a lifelong dream come true. Nothing mattered. Housing, food, human interaction are taken for granted. Transportation’s expensive, but kinda painless. I have had yet to hear car honks out of frustration, cacerolazos, milk shortages, … and after reading through the angst that underlies Francisco’s daily essays bordering on desperation, I’m not sure I want to come back again to my little place in the sun.
        2012-30=1982 … year of dame dos, seaworld, miami hotels, beaches. Sure, since then dear close friends have succumbed to drink and smokes, but this constant gnawing at your souls that I read with dread in this blog tells me to turn my back to my past and live away from what my body yearns for.

  6. Francisco – there is a subliminal appeal for someone to “rescue you” in your post. What’s wrong? I’ll tell you what. You simply do not belive in democracy unless your band wins. Pathetic for someone of your supposed intelligence.

    • On the contrary Arturo, people who believe in democracy defend democracy even if a band that doesn’t believe in democracy wins. Pathetic to expect otherwise.

  7. I think this makes sense in theory. But not sure that voters in Chavista-led states feel confident that their governor’s proximity to Chavez has led to meaningful progress for them in reality.

    • Exactly. Not only that, I’m not sure that voters in opposition-led states are willing to let go of tribal instincts and vote for the person most likely to fix potholes. That would assume Venezuelan voters are smart and rational, which they very obviously are not.

      • Oh, the Usual Suspects will turn out for the MUD candidate, no doubt. That’s the 3 million who voted in the primaries. But the 3.5 million who voted in October but not in February? A ton of them are just going to stay home, and in a way I can’t blame them.

    • I suppose the counterargument is that by electing an opposition governor, our dispassionate voter would force the central government to keep channeling resources to the chavista run parallel governorships (Corpozulia, Corpolara, Gobierno del Distrito Capital) and maybe *that’s* how the potholes get fixed.

      It’s a dismal argument, but the best I can do.

    • Yes, ask for example what the people of Barinas have gotten in return for being governed by the very chavez family. Nada. You want to see potholes? You want to see massive inequality, squalid living conditions alongside oil pipelines, poor infrastructure, a crumbling health and education system, rampant violence, out of control corruption, dengue, malaria, and to cap it off no electricity….come to the heart of the revolution. No, a vote for Chavez is expected. Lets not kid ourselves. There is no quid pro quo.

  8. Funny thing: that would be the logical and rational choice, but this electorate is far from being logical and rational. They will vote for whatever candidate they like more or most likely, the one that they hate less, and damn the consequences.

  9. By far your worst post during our post-election hangover. Lately you guys are all over the place, and you really seem to be taking everything to another masochistic level, we lost, get over it, the oppo grew, and we have a much stronger unity than ever despite the Ricardo Sanchez and William Ojedas… We live to fight another day.

    You can tell from a mile away you live abroad. The difference between having Diosdado as governor to having HCR (case I am familiar with) has been incredible, just as it has in Sucre municipality (the other case I am familiar with) and I´m sure in many other parts of the country. Fact is, Oppo administrations may not have Lord Hugo´s approval or support (situado), but the day-to-day administration of things is a lot more efficient, tramites and the such are much quicker, anything that strays from the central government and the PSUV works better, schools, public offices, registrars, etc. and the only way to know that is to live it, and you my friend, like most of us, are too far away to feel the difference it can make in a person´s life.

    So yeah, I disagree with your whole post, it´s absurd because you commit the same mistake we all constantly make, you think you know how Pedro Perez thinks and feels, and that my friend, much like we saw in 7-O is not the case, people, and more specifically voters, are very strange, and I´m sure things are not as clear cut as we think they are in the coming elections.

    Now please, take some advil and get over that nasty-funky hangover, it does not suit you well.

    • Adolfo: 1000 % agree with you. That’s why I am so scared of staying here forever. These guys are living in another world. In december I am going back to cast my vote, I don’t want Jaua in Miranda regardless. HCR changed Miranda as Ocariz changed Sucre. It’s not perfect but no comparison with Diosdado or Rangel aka papipapi. A VOTAR TODOS
      Eduardo Rivero

  10. Anoyingly enough, the best plan for the coming elections seems to be another show, prepared by the ones that also brought “CNE is a cool guy”, now comes the “Protesta y vota”, or is it “Vota y protesta”? I get a feeling this is another elephant but in a different room… Could someone pick this up and explain it? But leaving the good n’ old ostracism behind, as lately there is no “you should vote because…” as much as there is “if you don’t vote you…”. Lack of reasons, lots of baseless acusations.

    Your last posts seem to linger around the same idea: now that we lost 7O, is it worth it to vote again? Ever? At least until certain conditions are met ala AB.

    • Let’s for a minute forget about the ministry of elections and ponder what those who voted for Ledezma achieved with their votes. Who is to say that Chavez is not going to “ledezmise” HCR? Presidential is one thing (Chavez needs an oppo candidate after all). Does he *need* HCR in Miranda to prove his “democratic credentials”? I think not.

      • Alek Boyd que facil es hablar desde afuera. Si vamos a tomar tu actitud, para que existe Caracas Chronicles. Vendamos todo y el ultimo que salga que se traiga la bandera y ya no hay ni que apagar la luz.

        • Eduardo, yo hace rato que deje de caerme a mojones, puesto que no me gusta pensar que soy borrego. Lo que tu llamas “mi actitud” no es otra cosa que ver las cosas desde la desapasionada distancia. Al contrario de tu situación, si es que estas dentro de ese cuadrilátero llamado Venezuela, es que yo no estoy esquivando coñazos, ni huyendole al gorila, ni esperando un arbitraje justo del referee. Yo estoy en la grada. Desde donde estoy puedo ver tu tamañito, frente al del gorila; puedo ver que mientras el gorila te coñazea en una esquina los entrenadores del gorila le dan ordenes al referee de no intervenir; puedo ver que a los de tu esquina los tienen amenazados, chantajeados, cuando no comprados; puedo ver que el publico en realidad disfruta del espectáculo y goza con la coñaza que te están dando en todos los rounds; veo también que la única vez que alcanzaste a meterle un gancho por el hígado al gorila, los de su esquina le hicieron señas al los jueces para que no contaran el punto a tu favor; en suma Eduardo, con esto no quiera decir que mi vision de la situacion es mejor o más acertada que la tuya, sino distinta. Desde luego que tu visión, de lo jodido que es estar en el ring con el gorila, es mucho más acertada que la mia, por cuanto tu estas adentro, siendo coñazeado, yo no.

          Pero el asunto es si los de tu esquina están dispuestos a escuchar opiniones de otros, el asunto siguen siendo, y allí es donde tu opinión es la que más vale, si tu estás dispuesto a seguir con la estrategia que te indican. Llevas 9 rounds llevando palo mi pana. No te parece lógico cuestionar tus acciones, estrategia, y técnica?

      PD perdona las mayusculas, la idea no era gritar. eso si por favor VOTEN

  11. “Los chavistas irán -o serán llevados- a votar el 16 de diciembre por más poder personal para Hugo Chávez. Los opositores y quienes se consideren indiferentes que no vayan a votar, en realidad estarán aprobando las comunas y su aceptación de la obediencia total. Sería un decepcionante destino para la libertad que nos legaron los libertadores y Simón Bolívar. El de verdad.” Sabias palabras, tomado de Analitica Premium.

  12. Masochism is voting without protesting.Masochism is accepting to live in a country that makes a mockery of human rights.

    Masochism is NEVER the will to fight back.

    Herculean feats to beat Chavismo in whatever way one can, could never be called Masochism.

    Courage is the opposite of masochism and it is the honorable and brave refusal to obey injustice or to be a partner in crime.For whoever is not part of the solution is part of the problem.

    • “I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue, unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary but slinks out of the race…” John Milton -Areopagitica.

  13. If the main requirement for the perpetuation of evil is that good people do nothing, then the choice isn’t between all or nothing, but between nothing and something.

  14. Until I read this post, I always rather liked the little motto from Bolivar on the masthead. I read it more as a condemnation of Chavez’s concentration of power than as a recommendation to literally ‘flee the country’. Now I’m not so sure. Think back to pre-internet days, when the equivalent of a blog, in a repressive society, was Soviet samizdat literature or the ANC’s underground newspaper Sechaba Isizwe. Then try to imagine them organising resistance under the slogan ‘Flee the country…’. One of Chavez’ greatest assets is that his principal opponents – the educated middle class – have a a way out that Soviet dissidents, for example, were denied. Venezuela has no gulags, no Sharpeville massacre, and yet instead of using all the spaces still available for resistance (including the vote), much of the grass-roots opposition is running around crying ‘Woe is me – there’s nothing to be done!’. I recommend everyone go away and read
    Vaclav Havel’s essay ‘The Power of the Powerless’. Then perhaps we can have a more fruitful discussion.

      • If I remember correctly, Vaclav Havel himself was unelectable until the entire regime collapsed. That is pretty much the same predicament we are facing. Havel did not go around hoping to win an election.

        • He (or rather the movement he was part of) wasn’t able to run, which is distinct I think from being “unelectable” though I see where you are going.

          The important point is that he and many thousands like him struggled and organized within the system they confronted. When he was charged, he presented a defense, even though the system was ridiculously pitted against him. He did not walk away, or like others (like Kundera -who is also admirable, but not particularly for his politics), resign himself to a fatalist posture. When the system collapsed, there was a viable opposition in place. Viable meaning it was organized, united, tested under pressure (extreme pressure) and had been functioning (without official recognition) for many years. People were not waiting on their hands when the moment arrived, and they precipitated the moment, which, as I recall, came with a popular repudiation (street protests) in the face of the “re-election” of the communist party to the presidency in November, 1989.

          If you read Charter 77, you will see that the democracy movement in Czechoslovakia was “hoping” for very much the same things many venezuelans are hoping for and voted for in the last election. Its not that bad yet in Venezuela, but if people sit back and say there’s no hope and do nothing, they will quickly see (maybe to their surprise) how much worse things can still get.


          The discussion on this blog is interesting in that it mirrors the discussions that went on between dissidents in communist europe and their emigre friends, many of whom basically gave things up for lost. I’m not a follower of Cuba but I would imagine the same sorts of debates go on there. Sometimes the comparisons are not appropriate, but I think in many important ways they are.

  15. I must say that it is a case by case thing. There are instances where I feel opposition will play an structural role, both in state management and in being loud voices against non-democratic intentions.

    I disagree in the splitting election gamble. Chavistas only win(and I can back this argument with a pretty graph) IF participation levels are high, which only happen at presidential elections. Will they happen again with their 1 X 10 machinery? Maybe. But it will certainly require tons of resources that may not be available. If they had bundled they would have had people voting for Chavez and its governors all at once.

    Like others have said before, having a chavista governor is no guarantee of success, and certainly it will be voting for people who does not believe in democracy. That being said, there are places where oppo leadership is a disaster. I feel sorry for those between Guatemala y Guatepeor.

  16. I don’t understand what is the purpose or message of this post. Is it to say: all is lost, there is no hope for the future?
    That is certainly a point of view, but is it worth sharing?

    • No it is not worth sharing.Better to say nothing at all,and for those who never give up in the face of evil, it is a slap in the face.

    • Ud. sabe que yo he mandado 20 años y de ellos no he sacado más que pocos resultados ciertos. La América es ingobernable para nosotros. 2°. El que sirve una revolución ara en el mar. La única cosa que se puede hacer en América es emigrar. Este país caerá infaliblemente en manos de la multitud desenfrenada, para después pasar a tiranuelos casi imperceptibles, de todos colores y razas. Devorados por todos los crímenes y extinguidos por la ferocidad, los europeos no se dignarán conquistarnos. Sí fuera posible que una parte del mundo volviera al caos primitivo, este sería el último período de la América.

      • ‘La América es ingobernable para nosotros.’

        A chavista might reasonably ask: ‘And who is the “we” in this sentence, white man?’.

        Ah, I forgot. Simon Antonio de la Santisima Trinidad Bolivar y Palacios was an afrodescendiente. I mean, just look at the photos.

        Seriously though: going off and dying in Santa Marta is always an option. But most of the 30 million inhabitants of Venezuela will just have to work it out the best way they can. Rafting from here to Key West just ain’t feasible.

  17. Alek, me decepcionas! Siempre te he visto como un gran luchador por nuestra democracia aunque sea desde afuera. Que pretendes ahora, que nos quedemos sentados de rabo y nos dejemos quitar el terreno ganado, no solamente con los 6,5 millones de votos opositores sino regalarle las gobernaciones a chavez? Bájate de esa nube amigo aunque yo sé que dictador no sale con votos pero tampoco lo vamos a dejar que nos agarre suavecito y sin darle la pelea. Allá los que se fueron huyendo. A mi nadie me saca de aquí y moriré pataleando y luchando con uñas y dientes!

    Maria Luisa Niño

  18. Marial Luisa, Eduardo! admiro su entereza de espiritu y ganas de luchar, pero….
    the problem lies within.

    Alex was very mild in saying …even comprados…. I would go a bit furhter ans state for the record : surelly many key oppo players ARE comprados.

    It is hard to assume the alternative of them being just utterly incompetnet polititians. Venezuela tine mejores hombres.

    Now, some of us who have devided to flee, are fighting our own battles od adaptation into foreing lands. We are also fighting our ties to the motherland and all the guayavo and disociacion that this entails.

    This reality plays to the regime premise of divide and conquer. Expats with interest in local politics being ostraziced by locals and viceversa.

    First we must understand that chavismo is a puppet of castrismo, that the venezuelian reality is one of an invaded country with an occupation force in place, and that the real enemy hides behind all this confussion and distraction of socialismo del siglo XX!, Estado comunal etc, while behind the scenes dismantles our resitance and continues the saqueo.

    ….afuera con los Piratas del Caribe. Chulos del mundo. Piltrafas castristas.

    • Lo que te puedo asegurar es que HCR y Maria Corina son incomprables, como tampoco es Ramon Guillermo Aveledo y muchos, muchos otros. Que haya comprables es obvio. La mano derecha de FDR renuncio pues le dijo que le estaban llegando a su precio!!!

    • Voy a citar parcialmente a un Sr. que no conozco:
      “Como dirían en Venezuela “ahora si se subió la gata en la Batea” tanto que costo’ la unificación de la oposición y al primer tropiezo deciden reiniciar de nuevo la separación y las que seguirán!!!!!!, esto no solo es negativo para toda la oposición sino que le siguen haciendo el favor al Sátrapa y sus bandas de bandidos , ambos deben estar muy satisfechos ,debo decir ‘QUE DESGRACIADAMENTE MERECEREMOS SEGUIR NO SOLO HASTA EL 2019 SINO HASTA QUE EL HAMBRE Y LA MISERIA ARRASEN CON LO QUE QUEDA DE PAIS “


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