Perreo Chronicles or, How I learned to stop worrying and love Capriles

All aborad the crazy train

I’m officially on day one of the crazy train. Rationality, for the time being, has been gladly tossed aside. If you’re like me, I’m happy to know we’re mostly on the same page.

During last year’s primaries, I worked for a candidate other than Capriles. So it took some ego-checking and some willful flexing of the whole “we’re-supposed-to-favor-the-common-good-for-the-sake-of-unity” muscle to get me fully on board the Autobus del Progreso. But eventually, it happened.

Last year, when I last went crazy, I went through the requisite steps: I bought the hat, I signed up to volunteer, I actually, truly, genuinely imagined the unprecedented possibility that Capriles might win.

Every time I stopped to question his pseudo-populist stump speech, whenever I didn’t hear from him what I wanted to, I inevitably got the same answer: “tú no eres el target.”

True enough. Yo no soy el target.

It was an exercise in supporting a candidate whom I initially did not like and whose message never spoke to me, but whom I was willing to go along with for the sake of winning. After all, part of chavismo’s success has been convincing me that my issues are much less important than other people’s, so I was willing to play with the team. And yes, towards the end, through sheer echarle bolas and sweaty, tireless, suicide campaigning, Henrique Capriles Radonski earned my respect and admiration, as well as my vote.

Let me just add, as long as I’m being candid, that my main criticism of Capriles had to do with his shortfalls as an orator. For long stretches of the campaign you just felt he couldn’t give a speech, couldn’t come close to matching Chavez’s superlative charm.

But back to the 2013 crazy train: On Sunday night, Capriles snapped me out of my rational depression. He gave me a reason to hear him out. But then last night…maaan oh man…. I’m positively giddy with delight.

Just watch Capriles smirk with irreverent thrill as he, pardon my French, sasses the shit out of Nicolás and calls him out for being a third-rate Chávez wannabe, an unelected flunkie with no campaign experience, a wide-eyed deer in the headlights muddling through as he tries to read a teleprompter (on which there are no substantive proposals to speak of). Maybe I´m drinking the kool-aid, but…hell, it was DELICIOUS.

Just watch this from 13:35.

How do you say PERREO in English?

I can’t remember the last time I consciously looked forward to tuning into a candidate’s TV appearance. I’m usually not a fanatical supporter. For me, it’s less about the blind, dogmatic reverence to an electoral option than it is about the honest and real excitement that derives from witnessing a true, genuine contest.

Mind you, we Venezuelans are completely unaccustomed to “true, genuine contests.”

Moreover, we’re well aware this isn’t really a “true, genuine, contest.” In fact, it may not be a contest at all. It’s shamelessly rigged through a dizzyingly uneven playing field, with the military now openly acting as the ground-game for one of the two camps. But leave it to Capriles to at least regale us with that wonderful suspension of disbelief, with a much needed validation of our crazy.

Maybe this is a terrible strategic mistake. Maybe I should still be happy to no ser el target. And granted, there are deeply serious institutional and economic issues that our nation faces, which I am by no means trivializing.  With the deck stacked against us, it’s very likely that we will not end up winning the election. But if Capriles keeps this up and if I’m afforded a month of this much fun? Well, as far as my morale goes, this election is truly priceless.

Emiliana Duarte

Emi is a cook, a lover of animals, politics, expletives, and Venezuela. She is the co-founder of Caracas Chronicles LLC and Managing Editor if the site until December 2017.