Last week, I went to Merida to visit some relatives.
When I was a kid, I loved visiting my grandma there. I loved the weather and the city.
The last time I went, three years ago, things started to look different. The city was growing, so traffic jams and crime were now part of the picture. The quaint little university town of yore had become a bustling little city.
Nothing prepared me for what I found last week: a city almost drowning in trash. Avenues and streets filled with piles of trash bags. Even La Culata couldn’t escape the problem.
On paper, Merida looked like an easy pick-up for the opposition. The incumbent governor was sacked, and Chavismo was divided thanks to former governor Florencio Porras (backed by the PCV). The PSUV put the face of candidate Alexis Mendez in every space available. His slogan was clear: Loyalty always.
In the end, Mendez won easily by 33.770 votes. Loyalty won indeed.
The MUD can name abstention or the weak showing of Porras as excuses, but let’s get real: the blame falls on MUD candidate, Mérida mayor Lester Rodriguez, because he was a bad mayor, period.
He couldn’t just seize for himself the support Henrique Capriles got there last October. Chavismo milked Lester’s problem and used it to their advantage. Lester paid the price.
But as JC wrote earlier, Lester is not alone. Most of opposition incumbents lost their races in part thanks to their own faults. Some overstayed their welcome, others got lazy and groveled in contentment.
Let’s not mince words: good riddance to “El Pollo” and Morel. Sorry, Cesar, your defeat can’t be blamed on William. But if there’s a real loser from the 16-D, it is UNT. I was expecting their downfall from the days I lived in Maracaibo. They had it coming. They brought this on to themselves.
Meanwhile, if I was adeco, I would ask for Ramos Allup’s resignation right now, and leave the party (making one hell of a riot in the process) if he refuses. If I was copeyano, I would do the same. If this was their main pitch for the election, they’re in deep trouble.
Who knows what will happen to Proyecto Venezuela… could another party simply absorb it?
But Henrique, Henri and Liborio weathered the storm. Governance matters. They did their work right and resisted the strong siege of Chavismo. I witnessed that in Lara.
Even if it can be said that their Chavista adversaries were weak (Reyes Reyes was), those three governors can say they have earned their victories. In the case of Miranda, we don’t know how much money and resources the Chavernment spent to push Elias Jaua.
They wanted Miranda more than anything else… and their perfect victory was incomplete.
A couple of thoughts regarding Chavismo: Yeah they won big, but the results have some bad news for them. Abstention was kind of big for them too. Thanks to the machinery and the overwhelming campaign they pulled off (whoever created that tricolor heart, my tip of the hat to you, good symbol), they still won big. But the results confirm that when Chavez himself isn’t on the ballot, they’re not the unstoppable force they were the 7-O.
Ojo con los comunistas. The PCV’s results in Merida, Portuguesa, Amazonas and specially in Bolivar cannot be understimated. It’s better for the PSUV to keep the red rooster happy.
Finally, a big warning to Primero Justicia, Avanzada Progresista and Movimiento Progresista de Venezuela (Liborio’s current party), survivors of the 16-D: don’t get cocky.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.