16-D Races to Watch: Bolívar

Four years ago, the largest state in the country was proof of how internal division can doom the opposition’s chances. Now, history repeats itself, but it’s chavismo suffering from squabbles.

Chavismo believes the result of last October still gives them hope of retaining the State governorship, but the split in their ranks could give a fully united MUD the victory.

Governor Francisco Rangel Gómez, candidate of the PSUV

Incumbent governor Francisco Rangel Gómez was considered one of the most vulnerable Chavista governors, but the comandante presidente gave him his full vote of confidence to seek a third term.

Some sectors of local Chavismo have accused him of corruption, specially related to the CVG industrial complex (he was its former president). The PSUV still has his back.

Manuel Arciniegas, candidate of the PCV

But the PCV has declared that the option of Rangel Gómez is “ethically impossible to support”. So, they’re backing their own candidate Manuel Arciniegas (a former middle-ranking member of the CVG), who has called the governor “a traitor against Chávez”.

Arciniegas and the “red rooster” party have denounced how Bolívar State and the CVG have been abandoned by the Chavernment and the constant threats against the PCV.

Former Governor Antonio Rojas Suárez (2000-2004).  Endorsed his former rival Andrés Velásquez from the start.

Back in 2008, former State Governors Antonio Rojas Suárez and Andrés Velásquez didn’t reach any kind of deal and the opposition went to that election split in two. Rangel Gómez won easily.

In 2012, there was no re-match between the two, as Rojas Suárez backed Velásquez in the 12-F primary.

Velásquez then defeated his rival Raul Yusef by a landslide.

Former Governor (and current MP) Andrés Velásquez, candidate of the MUD


Andrés Velásquez is looking for his third term as Governor, after previously holding the office from 1989 to 1995.

Chavismo has wasted no time in attacking him as “part of a workers’ union mafia”. Velásquez has responded saying that his rival is spending large amounts of money in a dirty campaign against him.

His proposals include creating 10.000 jobs and building 20.000 new houses.

Along with Mérida, this could be the State where divisions inside Chavismo seriously hurt their chances to retain the governorship. Even Chavista pseudo-pollster GIS XXI says so.