Disappointment? Why yes! I´ll take two, please.

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I can't believe it worked...again!
I can’t believe this worked…again!

The depressed girlfriend who’s been repeatedly dumped and keeps answering her ex’s calls. The Bravos de Margarita fan who shows up to the stadium at the start of every season knowing full well that the playoffs are a far-off pipe dream. The opposition voter who decides, once again, to embark on an emotionally draining rollercoaster of hope and disappointment involved in taking on an autocratic regime in a deeply unfair election. Why do we fall for it again and again?

Someone said that the definition of crazy is doing something over and over while expecting different results. Rationality dictates that when approaching any decision, one must identify the options, weigh out the pros and cons, and proceed with the one that best assures desired outcome.

Every time elections roll around in Venezuela, and I´m reminded of what I promised myself I would never do again (become a crazy person), time and again I’m faced with the choice: Do I care? Do I want to care? Can I get away with not caring even though I know caring will affect my mental health? Can I please not care just this once?

But, deep down, I know the answer is no. I cared when Rosales ran, I cared when the constitution was amended, I REALLY cared this past October 7th . I always care.

This time around, anticipating elections under what already promised to be absurdly unfair conditions, I was determined to not let myself care. Other than voting, my plans were to remain rational, distant, and limit myself to cold analysis while I keep living my life. And the government’s wildly successful use of Chavez’s death in the media as a means to exterminate whatever shred of self-worth I had as an opposition voter…well, lets just say the word resignation is an understatement.

Two days ago I was grumbling about how I’m positive Maduro would win more votes than Chávez did. Just this morning, I was speaking to someone you may all know about how it would be unacceptable to become a cheerleader commentator during this campaign. Not me. Not this time. Ni de vaina.

And then Capriles spoke on TV. And made it a moral imperative to care. He laid out a case so powerful, so basic, so rational, that it rendered it impossible for anyone who watched not to commit: Tenemos que luchar. We’ve gotta fight.

Maybe I’m just impressionable, but it really is a testament to Capriles’s leadership skills that he was able to switch off all the rational calculations I’d been making in a flash, and just when our country needs a dose of healthy, hopeful optimism.

And so, once again, I go to bed tonight knowing tomorrow I’ll wake up a crazy person again. Maybe that’s not a bad thing. Its probably the sanest thing I can do.

75 COMMENTS

  1. “…it really is a testament to Capriles’s leadership skills that he was able to switch off my all the rational calculations I’d been making in a flash, and just when our country needs a dose of healthy, hopeful optimism.”

    So….. like Chávez? But a bit different.

    • Like Chavez? I don’t know what are you trying to say, Rebecca. An emotional response in both cases, people can response emotionally and rationally. And in Venezuela seems that everybody responses emotionally, oh well. But besides that, the discourse is way different, no?

      • In fact, what worries me is the amount of similarities I sense in the discourses elaborated both Chávez and Capriles. Yesterday, Capriles spoke of his fight being impersonal, dedicated to Venezuela; he spoke for the need of unity amongst the people; he spoke somewhat aggressively of and to his opposition; he spoke as a mouthpiece for a single national body. These are all ideals difficult to disagree with; however, they were also ideals that were always more than present in Chávez’s political rhetoric and almost entirely absent from his practice. I realise that Capriles approaches these issues from a different discursive angles, but I worry that the outcome, should he win, would be the same. Perhaps the issue lies more with my lack of faith in universal politics of all stripes than with the Venezuelan reality at this moment.

        What concerns me in equal measures is how many supporters’ reactions to Capriles mirror many chavistas’ reactions to Chavez. As of yesterday’s statement, my social network feeds were clogged with dreamlike images of Capriles standing before the Venezuelan flag; claims to support Capriles “with everything”, declarations to “fight the good fight”, en fin. More than once I have seen images supporting Capriles based entirely on his pleasing physical appearance, in contrast to Maduro’s perhaps less sightly presence. Of course, such superficial statements of support are present in any political campaign, thought the importance of aesthetics in Venezuelan politics is, I feel (perhaps erroneously), characteristic of the seventy years of its turbulent social history. That the cult of personality goes so much further than particular policy – though doubtless this exists, too – is lamentable.

        • A personality cult is of course a bad thing, but elections are popularity contests and thus some personal adoration is inevitable. The difference comes afterwards, most normal presidents would discourage or limit the amount of sycophantic propaganda, while Chavez when out of his way to dominate every waking hour of Venezuelans.

          The key difference between Chavez and Capriles is that one was a compulsive liar and the other one is sincere and honest.

        • Nooooooo I so disagree with you Rebecca. Capriles is no heart-rob at least to my eyes, but he really delivered a really great speech yesterday, he said what I wanted to say. Totally related with his speech against the immoral take over of the institutions by the Chavismo. The difference is that Chavez did talked the talk but his walk was a little on the side, so when he took over the institutions, he was talking about freedom and singing a mariachi on the tv, he did whatever he wanted on the side. Capriles had delivered as governor, he is not corrupt, he is not a malandro like the upper echelon of the Chavistas, and he is young and educated, and his constituency love him. The man cares against the abuse of the Chavismo, the institutional abuse of the Chavismo of wanting to take the whole government for themselves as their personal farm, used to be Chavez’s personal farm now the rest wants to take over because they know the $$$$ is not gonna be open check book if they don’t take over. This is not about social programs and feeding the poor, this is about fighting for democracy.

          Now, being young and educated is big problem, to whom? Is that what you r referring to? Certainly not to me, I want somebody with education and experience. Maduro doesn’t have any of it, and moreover yes, he has a really repellent aura, notice what I said, I said aura, it’s that intangible thing that Chavez didn’t have, he was very muy simpatico, as long as you agree with him. Doesn’t have to do anything with his physical look.

          This is what is happening, the Chavismo backed by the Cuban bros want a president de facto so they can still be in power. And they are doing everything possible to make it happen.

          Despite of a million elections in Venezuela. Chavismo has not been fair and square winning elections putting all that amount of money out there when campaigning and having all people chavista working on all institutions including judicial (uh-ah remember?) and the military now with the guy who was last of his promotion as the top military calling for let’s hit on the madre of those oppo. WTF is that. That is Chavismo for you, that’s how they always been, now without the varnish of the show man.

          • “This is not about social programs and feeding the poor, this is about fighting for democracy.” Because we all agree with social programs, just to clarify in case you think oppo people don’t care and drink champagne everyday laughing about the poor or something. The problem is the autocratic nature of Chavismo taking over the institutions, so evident these days.

  2. Crazy is good, it means you are sane. As long as you know you are right, right? If you can add to the dialogue and convince a few people to vote your way, do it!!! This is part of the fight. You have to build momentum.

    There is a flood of journalistic commentary on the Chavez legacy out there. In the spirit of lazy journalism the economix column in the New York Times just added this:
    http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/11/chavismo-and-human-development-in-venezuela/?hp

    • UMass = hotbed of radicals
      Economist = really? Where’s the beef?
      Mention of Mark Weisbrot = ’nuff said
      VIO reactivation? = anything to do with Golinger’s visit to NY?
      economix.blogs.nytimes.com = like off-off broadway for the NYT.

      • “economix.blogs.nytimes.com = like off-off broadway for the NYT.”

        Pack it in, folks. This is the comment of the day! XD

    • F@ck! Why did I read that? Now I feel again outraged and obliged to reply to all the lies! I don’t have time for this BS!

  3. I’m not the biggest HRC fan around here, but it was a great speech. Sorry for the nerdy reference, but I felt like watching the charge of the Rohirrim at Helm’s Deep in LotR 2…
    😛

      • Isn’t that a romantic dramedy? Although the movie is a classic (i.e. friggin old flick), I haven’t seen it. I only know the scene because it is a pop culture reference.

        Besides, I only watch romantic comedies when the boss lady makes me do it. 😛

  4. That’s it Emi… He made it visceral! He moved our basic or “reptile brain” which is where our cerebellum that commands “movement” is located (as in párate del sofá racional y anda a colaborar wise) instincts to survive. The last thing a human being loses is his survival instinct. Venezuela is our home, it’s our territory, the rock under which we, the pacific garden snakes have been hiding, The agressors have kicked the stone too many times during too many years. And finally HCR’s speech and attitude made our instinctive reptile brains finally kick in… It works by instinct, not by rationality (cortical brain) or by intuition ( limbic or emotional brain) . So yes, we may be crazy, but can’t rationalize it. We will fight against ALL odds for our territory.

  5. I would like to add two quotes from the former UCLA coach John Wooden:

    “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming”

    “Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.”

    I believe adversity is turning these guys into stoics. The Tarjeta Unica move is admirable and shows that there is willingness to compromise. Also, having been close to Comando Venezuela, having Henry Falcon run the campaign is also another step in the right direction.

  6. My sentiments exactly! I was prepared to go through the motions, vote (always vote) and not care, because realistically there is no chance for the opposition right? At least no till 2019….. And then I saw Capriles on TV last night…and now I care again….damn him for making me want to fight a battle we will certainly loose, but we will go down fighting!

  7. The alternatives are to go and vote – making your statement, together with those of a mind with you, and let the chips fall where they may – and not to go and vote – making yourself indistinguishable from a bright and happy German Shepherd.

    Also, regardless of viewing it all from lofty vantage points in pondered and detatched mode or just seeking to express spite, NOT to vote can become the ‘beginning of the end’ on an individual basis, a ratification of the evanescence of personal hope. Which, they rightly say, is ‘bad for the soul’, and, in passing exactly what your electroal adversaries seek.

  8. Many of us felt that way, first the anguish of the wait, then as HCR expressed in very strong but yet respectful words, what has been a great deal for the Opposition. What stroke me the most was when Henrique said they didn‘t even show a litle respect for the President with a Minute of Silence, that really shocked me to the point it gave me goose bumps. My perspective now is still realistic but we have a Great man representing almost half of country and that has to mean something bigger than just to give up.

    • Great post – and great comments. I agree, Capriles effectively spoke to his base and stirred it up for battle – just when it needs that injection.

      Actually the one thing that seemed to me a bit off the mark was Capriles commentary of the absence of the minute of silence, In ñangara (ñangara = leftie) culture the minute of standing ovation is frequently used as a substitute of the minute of silence, as a tribute to the dead. I don’t know if Capriles was aware of it or not when he spoke last night.

  9. I had become rational, emotionless, in other words, realistic: we will be stuck with the “Chavismo sin Chávez” for quite a while. Hence, why suffer more dissapointments again?
    But Capriles put it plain vanilla: we cannot stay idle, HELL NO!!
    Everyone is clear we probably don’t stand a chance against the infinite funds, abuse, control, power and fear the government terrorizes its citizens everyday. And despite knowing the probable outcome, I think Capriles again will remain a leader. He will remain, in my point of view, a David who stood against Goliath, and someday he will not miss hitting the giant’s head.

    • Indeed, when the opposition wins back the presidency, it will owe a lot to what Capriles has done since last year. Sad we wasted 14 years with conspiracy theories, but we must look forward. The night is darkest just before the cockcrow.

  10. Beautifully put, Emiliana. I couldn’t have described my own roller coster of feelings this past few days better. Deep down I knew the nioght of October 7 that it was not the end of the movie…something bigger was cooking. And I resorted to that same feeling last night while listening to HCR. I know, it’s my emotional brain speaking. But who knows? The game ain’t over till it’s over

  11. Madiro’s threat that Capriles will face “the law” for what he said about them hiding behind Chavez’ corpse was on the national news here in Canada.

    Capriles needs the highest possible support to avoid becoming a political prisoner; he needs you to work your butts off for him over the whole ten day period.

  12. There are things we do because there is something to be gained or some loss to be averted by doing it , others we do because they give us some inner sattisfaction , some intimate gratification , then there are things we do because something inside us compells us to do them even it there is probably nothing to be gained by it and even if in the end it might give us more grief than joy , these are the things we do out of dignity , out of a sense of duty , out of a sense of responsability , whatever the consequences , to be faithful to ourselves or to the personal image we have of our selves. Its what drove Churchill and the brits to fight on relentlessly when the nazis had britain cornered and appeared unstoppable . This is pure moral grit and not everyone has it !! Sometimes people need someone to inspire them to discover it in themselves , that I think is what happened with Capriles speech last night , he said things that roused us from our funk , from that sense of despair that the regime constantly and methodically works at instilling on the opposition , also he showed , claws , he showed fangs we didnt know we had , claws that can sink deep into the flesh of the monsters we face. that also gave us a good feeling !! In any event I sense in the blog you wrote today , something of the spirit which I try to describe above , of course much better written and explained !! Welcome Emiliana , we need you here !!

    • “Its what drove Churchill and the brits to fight on relentlessly when the nazis had britain cornered and appeared unstoppable . ”

      Being protected from the Nazis by the English Channel might have something to do with them fighting on. But I’m just nitpicking 🙂

      • Hadnt thought of that! , may be I got carried away by my admiration for british pluck and Churchillian oratory . Although at the time most people saw the Channel as more of a puddle which the Wermatch might breach any minute !!

  13. Was it genuinely rational to assume that the cause was hopeless before? Or was it an emotional hangover from the disappointment of October?

    It seemed to me that Maduro et al were trying to intimidate the oppo into giving up beforehand.

    Remember – Chavez is gone.

  14. Maybe “Testament” is not the right word, Quico, HCR speech was a new beginning of hope for those who refuse to buy that Maduro is the saint Peter of a new religion.

  15. I am going to vote thinking my vote (abroad) won’t be counted. And, also knowing, that Maduro will win. No questions about it. Not because of his mustachio or his repellent aura, but because of the machinery behind him. But. what the hell. It will cost me around 500$ and not sure if they will include me on the electoral registry. I have been out of the country for so many years, lost my cédula laminada X years ago and until recently haven’t been able to register on the consulate. Let’s see if this time I will be able to. Great post E, keep writing, you have that emotional touch that CC the bachelor blog needed. 😀 I understand the crazy thing, it gets so frustrating. In the meantime, I personally will keep my preach in my bad English to all my limo lib friends who wants to hear me.

  16. Great Post!
    Capriles may very well lose this election because of: (i) Chavez nostalgia (ii) lack of exposure of his message amongst the poorest segments of the population because of state-control over the media. Also, as incompetent as Maduro and Co are, even they can’t manage to cause a national economic crisis in less than amonth.
    However, at least Venezuela now has one thing it has lacked for 14 years: a well respected and strong opposition leader who appears to be in it for the long haul and, thus, provides much needed continuity and consistency. That cannot be understated.
    It is very important to get as many votes as last elections at least. The opposition can afford to lose; what it cannot afford is to get trounced in a landslide.

  17. Great post Emi!! Bienvenidos a la locura :). I felt the same way about HCR’s speech.. So much so that it inspired me change from long time lurker of CC to a commenter. That’s off-topic.
    More to the point, Capriles last night was unassuming, without guile, and extremely fired up. It was the shot in the arm that all of us have been needing. It was extremely refreshing and inspiring to here someone say “This election isn’t about me, this election isn’t about one man. THIS ELECTION (this fight) IS FOR THE GOOD OF THE COUNTRY.”

  18. It is absolutely rational to care. It is absolutely rational to struggle. It is rational because it is your future they want to control and in controlling it, take it away. It is rational to struggle against the supression of your human rights, your future. Not only is it rational, it is the right thing to do, and if people say that struggling is insanity, they do not know the half of it. Struggling is the only thing that will preserve your sanity and your humanity. Struggling makes you tired and makes you hard. Doing nothing will make you even harder and more tired. It will kill you inside.

    Absolutely Capriles put the argument out there for why people should take action and not accept defeat. He articulated it perfectly. You, like my family in Venezuela, responded to Capriles’ message last night and you should feel the pride of someone who is responding with courage and doing the right thing. I am proud of you and of them because you revive my faith in the people of Venezuela. In the face of all of these lies and mediocrity and degradation of the human spirit, this wall- frankly- of shit- it can still be said that Venezuela has hope and has a future. The people are being deceived and are having their future taken away and someone has to stand in the way of that.

    It is great you have joined the blog. This blog is great but the more- ahem- diversity of voices the better. And you and Gustavo have the advantage of being witnesses. As folks I know in Venezuela are saying: ahora o nunca.

  19. Oh, God, you wrote so right, Mr. Toro!!!

    Who knows Capriles win the run this time against the lies and the oppression!?

  20. Without a doubt, this post/all comments are among the very best I have read on CC. Capriles didn’t just minimize what was probably going to be significant abstention among his own followers. He assured us that the Oppo will be a viable governance alternative,(via a probable respectable number of votes, even when losing now), when the inevitable collapse of the Venezuelan economy causes widespread public disenchantment (read Caracazo 2/Russian Spring/et. al.) with the Chavismo Deception.

  21. “Someone said that the definition of crazy is doing something over and over while expecting different results”

    The best thing for me was that we are doing some things different:
    – Message: attack mediocrity, be clear and direct in your attacks. Keep distancing yourself from hatred but show you are not affraid.
    – Logistics: getting Falcon to run the campaign would seem a good way of avoiding the PJ tendency to go on their own and believe they are they only one’s who have the right answers.
    – Image: The unitary card is really, really important, we lost over 250K votes due to tricks that were possible because we didn’t have a unique, distinctive card. This time they won’t be able to cheat us that way at least.

    Even if we lost this is real progress… game has changed indeed…

  22. Yesterday Capriles gave the best emotional speech ever in Venezuelan politics since the famous Caldera´s speech soon after chavez´golpe in 1992. This latter, unfortunately, was the first step for Chavez´ assault to the power. Let´s hope Capriles´ speech be the first step to freedom from red fascism that is sinking Venezuela.

  23. I don’t live in Venezuela, so I have the luxury of looking at this a little differently….but I must say:

    Do you really want to win? Do you want to be holding the bag when the money runs out and the sh*t truly hits the fan? That could push the Chavistas, hardcore and moderate, to wholeheartedly ditch any vestige of democracy in the belief that only Chavez and his heirs can save them from the vulture class or however they want to frame the impending economic corrections if they were to occur when they were not in power. On top of that, it would make Chavez even more of a demi-god in the barrios.

    • Well, this is the only country we have. It’s true that if we manage to win by some miracle we’re going to inherit a big mess, but chances are that same mess is still going to be there in 2019 anyways given their track record in management. Any government now isn’t going to enjoy high popularity ratings, the most we can hope for at this point is greater efficiency and a desire to get the country back on track.

      One way or the other, I’m sure that by the time the next presidential elections swing around, some enterprising soul from the Chavez family or the remnants of the PSUV will run again shamelessly piggybacking on the Chavez myth.

    • Interesting comment, but what’s the alternative? Let them kill themselves, until when? Not do anything… platanote for president until 2031? I though people were gonna be exploring the galaxies by 2031, for the love of God. :/

  24. If you really, really are commited to realism, think about having the will to continue “fighting” (aka writing) AFTER the 14th of April.

    Despues del 14 seguiremos luchando?

  25. Emiliana,

    You are a natural at this sort of writing. I got choked up reading this piece. And I am not even Venezuelan, although I have a lot of time (and heartache) invested here.

  26. I remember it being said that the biggest regret many Cubans have or had is that they did not fight when in the early years of the Castro revolution. When they finally accepted that their country was going in the wrong direction, it was too late, the country was firmly under the control of the Castros and their backers in the USSR.

    I truly hope that every Venezuelan who cares backs Capriles and gets out to vote, regardless how hopeless it may seem. Everything should be documented in as much detail as possible so that the opposition has as much ammunition as possible to recall the government within the next few years when the crisis hits hard enough that the poor withdraw their support from this gang of slugs.

    Great post Emiliana, especially following Capriles’ great speech last night!

  27. A short campaign with Chavez death “fresh” on people’s mind. Same CNE, same REP, same government abuse of the mass media. Furthermore, at this point I believe every Chavista will vote for Maduro since he has had no time to mess up. Unless a huge scandal breaks out from today to election day (which is highly unlikely), I expect results similar to those of 7-O.

    It is funny how I always end up voting, even though I know the chavismo will end with 2 conditions:
    1-Chavez’s death
    2-Internal division due to scandals, protests and internal power struggles.

    We are not quite there with number 2, but I believe Maduro will not last 6 years… wait, isn’t that what we thought about Chavez? Oh well…

  28. Great post Emiliana and welcome to the blog.
    Caring is important because people dig deep and give the best when they really care. But it always needs to be tempered with a dose of realism. Not because is impossible to win but because it’s possible to lose and we should never forget that. Why? Because afterwards then disappointment hits too hard and people become apathetic and defeatist, the polar opposite as they were before. The key is to manage expectations, your own expectations and those of the people around you. It’s something that politicians need to to do and rarely do in Venezuela.

    That hurt us a lot on the last December election, after a not-so-bad-result in October (it was the most votes ever obtained and the best result in a presidential) the extremely high expectations that people had turned into a big depression and many people didn’t care to vote in December and we got trounced in an election that strategically was extremely important. And it was completely unnecessary, it was the result of people getting their hopes too high. Even in this blog JC became so depressed that he could not see any positives in October seeing instead everything in black and white. Ironically the December election he didn’t take it so bad even though that was a much worse defeat. Why? His expectations were so low that any result looked ok. Unfortunately before Oct 7th the politicians (including Capriles) let those expectations rise too high and after Oct 7th they did not sense the big depression people had and did nothing to break them out of that funk they were in. The result was that in Dec. for the first time in 7 years a big percentage of the opposition voters stayed home.

    So please manage your expectations, is not about becoming emotionless or about not caring. People still need to care because that enthusiasm and intensity is necessary to achieve a victory that is always a possibility (even when improbable). But at the same time people always need to remember that defeat is also possible and is not the end of the world. Even on defeat you can win and construct for the future as long as people don’t become depressed and apathetic as happened in December 2012 (and 2004).

  29. Hello,
    though i know it may no longer be germane to the discussion, i just wanted to point out that with elections looming and Capriles’ reference to Venezuelans abroad, id just like to point out that the consular services website, always dreadful (and practically the only way to access the bureaucracy for remesas) is shut down. perhaps they are just working on it on the back end, sure. but just test the link from time to time, and lets see if they are going to let us vote of CR abroad.

    http://embavenez-us.org/_neworleans/

    • Correction, the DC embassy website is working as of this moment, as is the consular website for Houston. its all error messages elsewhere as is 10:16 CT

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