A candidate in search of a tone

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Wearing the PDVSA shirt, even though PDVSA has become a shell of a company
Wearing the logos of Maduro’s companies.

Over at Foreign Policy’s Transitions blog, I ponder the unsettled tone of the Capriles campaign. One day he is an attack dog, the next day he is a uniter. One day he convinces us the CNE is unreliable, but then he asks us to go out and vote massively. The campaign seems to not have settled on a core message.

My money quote:

“The problem with [Capriles’] strategy is that one can be an attack dog and run a very negative campaign, or one can run as a uniter, but it’s very hard to run as both. Capriles may think that denouncing the government’s abuses helps him soften Maduro’s support, but in the end it will only soften his own. His insistence on planting doubts about the fairness of the vote is simply confusing to voters.

Part of the reason for Capriles’ seeming lack of discipline may come from the rushed nature of the election. While Capriles was clearly preparing for a campaign, the uncertainty surrounding the exact date of the election (Chávez died a month ago) meant crucial decisions about the campaign were postponed until a timetable was firm.”

1 COMMENT

  1. He’s actually wearing Zamora FC’s (from Barinas) shirt. PDVSA happens to be the sponsor, but right now is the main sponsor of almost all football clubs (and other sports) in Venezuela today.

  2. I agree with you that the short time of this campaign (just the idea of doing an entire presidential election in one month is simply nuts) maybe has influenced this, but maybe in the end he didn’t want to go fully negative and thought some optimism was needed as a thematic counterweight.

    You’re right that is hard to to do both attackdog and uniter roles at the same time, but given the very special circumstances (ten days only) he’s not doing it badly. But he couldn’t get away with this in an ordinary 3-6 month campaign.

  3. I was wondering about the strategy behind the voting machine codes issue myself. Overall though, having watched his speech in Barinas and his speech in Maracay (are there any more speeches I can watch??) I think he is doing an excellent job, pulling great crowds, and hitting all the rights notes about how the government is completely f–d up.

    Maduro, as you rightly indicate, is an appalling candidate. His speeches are oddly petulant, they reek of entitlement, they meander into a strange zone of sarcasm/trying to be funny, the practice of rambling off a long list of his upcoming campaign engagements is boring and odd, and the magic-realism bits are mind-boggling. He frankly sounds like the corner drunk sometimes (yesterday he was rolling his “rrrr’s” in an inexplicable way), although I am sure he is completely sober.

    • The strategy behind the machine’s code is twofold: it was a true incident and it puts CNE on the defensive; the truth always pays off. CNE will have to give something up for the benefit of the transperency of the election!!!

      • To me, the number one reason why a very large group of people will prefer Maduro is they do not believe their vote will be confidential. If they don’t vote for Maduro, the state will take away their livelihood.

        I am not questioning the truth of what the Capriles campaign is saying. But they are making this a front and centre issue of their campaign. Does this strategy not play into that fear?

        Maybe the decision was, people will believe their vote is not confidential no matter what, so let’s just speak the truth. In which case, it makes sense. I think I have just convinced myself, the strategy makes sense. We agree.

        • In addition the MUD and Capriles himself have stressed that the code thing has nothing to do with the secret of the vote but with the potential of “saboteo” which most likely has been done in previoys elections.

        • “To me, the number one reason why a very large group of people will prefer Maduro is they do not believe their vote will be confidential. If they don’t vote for Maduro, the state will take away their livelihood.”

          Agreed! This should be the central core of the campaign. There should be a written document as well. It should stress the use of the military, the siphoning of funds from PDVSA, the implicit threats of being ‘knocked off’ government lists for having voted the wrong way, the obvious corruption, the use of state-owned mass media for political purposes,….everything! Bring it out. Go down swinging! That, …THAT, should be the theme.

  4. I think the crucial question in Venezuelan politics today is the economic question — not how you fix inflation and create jobs, but whether you envision a mostly public or private economy.

    The answer to that question defines whether you see the misiones as the road to equality, or simply poverty alleviation. It also tells us whether you think economic democracy is important or not.

    Capriles is as vague as possible on this very important question. Understandably, because he is trying to court socialists and retain his base of free market enthusiasts. But his opacity makes his discourse negative, and his persona untrustworthy.

    • First things come first!!! Any discussion of Caprile’s policies at this time are futil simply because, whatever they are, they are going to be better that we have now.

    • Even granting your point about Capriles’ message, he’s still a better choice than Maduro.

      After 1 Trillion dollars, 14 years, two “Leyes Habilitantes” and all 3 branches of government firmly under Chavez’ thumb what we have to show for it is pathetic.

      “They don’t let him govern”.
      Coño, what more do you want?

      “It’s not him, it’s those around him” Well, guess who’s running now? Those around him! Great!

      So far, the misiones have been alleviation and not education and preparation. Handing out fish rather than handing out boats and nets and teaching how to fish. And while I will concede they have helped those who most need the help, sort of, they are too dependent on a non renewable, price fluctuating commodity.

      Please give me an example of a state that has ALL means of production in it’s hands AND has a decent standard of living for the majority.

      I am all for poverty alleviation, and education, and a fair shot for all regardless of class/economic position, but what you envision yoyo has not worked anywhere and will certainly never work in Venezuela.

      Decent regulation, enforcement of laws, eradication of corruption and ending the “free” oil giveaways will go much farther towards creating a society we can be proud of.

      • If Capriles is elected, does he get to rule by decree as well? Can he veto any attempt to repeal the Leyes Habilitantes?

        • You can only rule by decree in Venezuela if Congress (Asamblea Nacional) grants you the power to do so.

          Given that if Capriles wins there will not be a majority in Congress favorably disposed to grant him said power I doubt he will be able to rule by decree.

          Typically, the ability to rule by decree was granted only in special circumstances and not to pass everyday legislation.

          Interesting to note, Chavez was granted those powers to legislate by decree after the disastrous rains of 2010 and there are still people who lost their homes to those rains living in shelters almost 3 years later.

          • Thanks Roberto. I don’t know how it is constitutional for an entire branch of government to delegate its power to another branch, but what I am hearing from you was the power that was delegated was time limited. And completely useless.

          • Yes, typically a time frame is defined.

            ‘You can rule by decree because (insert emergency here) from (insert time frame here).

            These are extraordinary powers only to be used in the direst of times.

            Another example of how this band of thieves diluted and stepped all over the constitution they themselves promulgated.

    • It’s tolerably clear that Capriles supports a mixed economy. With Maduro, he is basically campaigning to be Comandante, that is, to make all decisions personally. If he has somewhere specifically promised to extend nationalizations beyond what Chavez did in his years in power, I haven’t seen it. In any event, those nationalizations don’t make the economy “public”, even slightly. A good first step in making the economy “public” would be to publish the expenditures of the President’s Office.

    • Whenever yoyo makes a smart comment (always, I think), a throng of people proceed to debate themselves and ignore any input of value.

      I’m not sayin’ anything, I’m just sayin’…

  5. Capriles does not need a tone that would be considered “coherent” by the the well educated but a strategy that would work, and working it is!

  6. Capriles cannot focus on one single tone because he has different target constituencies , on the one hand he has to keep his ‘stock and barrel’ supporters happy or maybe come voting day they stay home dissapointed with a candidate who is too limp , this means striking hard at maduro but also showing he is vigilant and assertive whenever the CNE skews too heavily in favouring the other side , at the same time he has to be the unity candidate to attract disgruntled chavistas which means softpedaling the criticism , so rather than one tone he has to skillfully change tones depending on his feel of what the audience expects of him . St Paul said that a preacher had to be all things to all men , which is clearly impossible. Capriles is trying to adapt his tone in tune to changing circumstances without straying too far from his core messages , still he cannot be totally congruous and expect to remain a viable candidate . This is true of almost any candidate in a democratic system !! Lets not be too harsh on the man , his is a tough tough job.

    • This would make sense if the various constituencies he’s speaking to didn’t know he was speaking to the other constituencies at play. Because he tries to be all things to all people, the message comes across as cluttered at best. It reasonably raises the question: if he’s speaking one way to these people and another/opposite to these other people, how do I know which one is true?

      • Alejandro : I find that his unity message is one which resonates with his core constituency as well and one which contrasts with Maduros strong rejection of any kind of tolerance of diverging views . Doubting Chavistas may well be attracted to the message that they need not fear the persecution of a victorous Capriles . Still hitting the right tone, one appealing to everyone’s taste every time, can be a very difficult goal and there are bound to be times when the wrong note comes out . This is to be expected and should not alarm us . There is a saying : ‘A war is not won by he who never makes a mistake , but by he who makes the least mistakes’ and there Maduro is clearly the one hitting the most wrong notes of all !!

      • The point with the passive-aggressive tone is: you attack the master, not the follower. You offer a carrot to the rabbit being led in chains while beating the government’s leadership with a stick. BB is right, you also have to appease the frightened nini’s or flip-flopers.

        Life is difficult nowadays for politicians because online media have made it exceptionally easy to cross-reference messages sent at different times to different audiences. But I don’t sense that Capriles is off message.

        Another important point is to contrast Maduro’s weary campaign with Capriles’ energetic effervescent one. This is a big factor why the margin with Chavez narrowed in October. Making it clear that Chavez and co. were the old guard. Another reason Capriles does not fear to don Chavez regalia: he is the new guard.

        • Very plausible, thanks. I’m not quite sure I agree with the causal link between “youthful effervescence” and “narrowing margin” in October. The margin narrowed in comparison to 2006, to be sure. But in 2006 the opposition was still divided between absentionists and pro-vote sectors. No doubt that division depressed turnout for the opposition, which likely contributed to an artificially inflated margin for Chavez. So it’s not clear that the 2006 and 2012 elections say much at all about trends in terms of size of constituency, either for the government or the opposition. If anything, percentage wise, the margin was almost identical to 1998. What that suggests is a deeply polarized electorate across time, on the one hand, and on the other hand, that we just don’t know whether 45/55 is the respective electoral ceiling for each pole. Of course, we’ll know next week. Also, youth as an electoral mobilization tool doesn’t really have much of a history in Venezuelan politics. CAP I was the only one who really milked it effectively, but most of the winning challenger messages were built on an outsider claim.

          • I’ll drop the *big factor* claim, but keep *factor*.
            Rather than argue about specific causes, I just throw out the numbers I dug up:

            1998 Chávez 56% Salas Römer 40% turnout 54%
            2001 Chavez 60% Arias Cárdenas 38% turnout 56%
            2006 Chavez 63% Rosales 37% turnout 74%
            2013 Chavez 54% Capriles 45% turnout 85%

            Chavez was first elected at the ripe age of 44 on a “revolutionary” platform, so pretty “youthful”. Chavez always appealed for his energetic appearance, even if in his later days, well, you know. So there is room in Venezuelan politics for the youthful. Of course the “youthful” and “outsider” labels can overlap. You can use the label “fresh” instead.

          • Thanks for the numbers; again, contextually, the 2006 and 2012 elections aren’t comparable, so if you drop that one as an outlier, and really also 2000 because of the proximity with the 1998 ones, then you’re left with roughly the same percentage. It’s jst not possible to draw trends from these events. And no doubt Chavez was young. But lets not forget that he beat a Caldera who had been reelected in his 80s, on the strength of an anti platform.

          • What I think is remarkable is the 2012 turnout. Some of this is because of opposition abstention in the past (as well as Chavista) and the general sense of urgency among voters (and the government’s persuasive incentives) but I would give Capriles’ energetic campaigning some credit. Of course being anti-establishment was at the core of Chavez’ message. In the first election he ran against Romer (and Saez) though. Caldera was just lurking about like Marshal Hindenburg.

            We’ll see how abstention affects the coming election… perhaps JC is right

  7. Unfortunately, appealing to the “educated” is not enough. That is only 30% of the population. He needs to excite the masses and they respond with the right emotional appeal. Mr. Capriles, it seems, is trying to imitate the effective Chavez style of being both attack dog and uniter. Perhaps he just lacks practice and or the conviction to be so realistically negative. It is difficult for a true democrat to behave effectively like a fascist.

    • Seriously, people need to stop considering the uneducated as stupid, pure-feeling driven animals. Not because they aren’t, but because it’s stupid to think that we aren’t.

      • Good point Faust : uneducated people arent stupid , they can be as naturally intelligent as any one, Of course lacking an education makes it more difficult for them to understand the often subtle and complex issues which public life involves , and to make sound judgments on those issues . They are thus more prone to fall into those passionate delusions that befall men who dont really understand things as fully as other more informed people can . This is not say that having an education ( usually in Venezuela a rather mediochre one ) saves people from incurring in many of the same errors and delusions that plague less educated people. It may make some of them more likely to avoid those errors if they really try to make good use of the education they have recieved but that certainly is not always the case And anyone educated or not can be made to incurr in stupid thoughts when idiotized by emotionally appealing delusional passions .

        • “lacking an education makes it more difficult for them to understand the often subtle and complex issues which public life involves , and to make sound judgments on those issues”

          But many of you here have an education yet still have practically zero understanding of Venezuela’s complex issues.

          For example, most of you have been taught (educated) that the root of Venezuela’s problems is oil. However, the slightest bit of independent thought would tell you that this is obviously not true. Venezuela was much poorer BEFORE oil, with a very low-productivity ag-export economy, and virtually no industry. In addition, many of Venezuela’s neighbors are equally poor, or POORER, yet they have little oil.

          In other words, a poor Venezuelan who simply looks at a map probably has more insight about Venezuela’s complex issues than most of you “educated” Venezuelans.

          • What an ignorant supercilious fool you are, GAC. No one here but you is deluded about Vzla’s issues. If we were convinced they were just about oil, this blog would be, ummm like, oil wars. Oh wait, that’s a now-defunct blogspot, once trumpeted loudly by yet another one of you, in search of nirvana.

            So spare us the lecture. Or find yourself a more appropriate target. If you want to contribute opinions or ideas, do so constructively. If you even know what that adverb means.

            P.S. Venezuela’s economic framework, before the birth of its oil industry in the early 20th century, has no relevance to this government’s utter mismanagement of the economy, utter mismanagement of the oil industry, and utter mismanagement of the greatest influx in petro-dollars that Venezuela has ever experienced. Get real.

            You’ve been supporting a government that cannot deliver, except on shabby performance, delirious verbals and gross corruption.

          • “No one here but you is deluded about Vzla’s issues. If we were convinced they were just about oil, this blog would be, ummm like, oil wars. ”

            Actually, many here, including the authors of this blog, have often subscribed to the whole “resource curse” perspective. To say otherwise just shows how completely dishonest you are.

            And Oilwars did not claim that oil was the problem. The name comes from the US obsession with oil producing countries, which anyone with a brain could see by simply reading the subtitle of the blog.

            “Venezuela’s economic framework, before the birth of its oil industry in the early 20th century, has no relevance to this government’s utter mismanagement of the economy”

            Actually it has tremendous relevance. You have to understand what the problem is (e.g. why Venezuela is poor) before you can possible know what the solution is.

          • while you tap-dance to justify the reason for historical dialectics, GAC, so that you can understand what Venezuela’s problems are, I remind you that the current government has had 14 years to do something about the problems that it verbally identified, early on.

            Instead, the government has produced nothing more than smoke screens to hide its gross managerial negligence, offers of cheap trinkets, disrespect for the rule of law, full-blown corruption, and financial give-aways to others of a ‘patrimonio’ that could have done much to alleviate the problem that you allude to but are too chicken to spell out. In sum, you are part of a very expensive failed experiment. Period.

            By extension, you fail in target marketing when you exhibit your jack-in-the-box need to belittle (how well you pay attention to your Cuban masters) on these boards, rarely to add to the flow of ideas. You make yourself transparent in your directed nonsense.

            As for your label of so-called dishonesty, you of all people have one hell of a nerve. You also don’t know how to read nor interpret modifiers, these making your claims bogus. #DistractedByPajaritos

            Since your attention span is limited, this might help you understand the problem:

            P.S. Oilwars is about oil being the root of problems to be analyzed in Venezuela and Iraq. The blog was not called cauliflowerwars. But keep up the spin and the belittling. You may just hit a target one day. #InefficientOps

          • Snore…. since Syd can’t respond to anything I’ve said, he launches into a tirade about the current government which has nothing to do with what I’ve said up above.

            P.S. Yes, sure, Oilwars claimed that oil was the root of the problems because it had Oil in its name. IN other words, this blog must think that Caracas is the root of the problems because it has Caracas in its name.

            If you honestly believe what you say, you must be a very interesting individual Syd.

          • Ouch GAC, yes, Venezuela is third world, but had historically been MUCH more developed than some neighbours, and developed at european rates up to the 70s, thanks largely to….. oil! (yes, also some bauxite etc)

            And Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil are all oil producers (not the same level but significant)

          • Venezuela developed at “european rates” up to the 1970’s? Thanks for demonstrating my point feo. So-called “educated” people are often as clueless as the uneducated.

          • I apologize, I misread your post. You state correctly that oil has been the central source of growth in Venezuela (and its exploited labourers of course haha). True but it has created its unusual share of problems making it dependent on export of one commodity but otherwise heavily dependent on imports (Dutch disease). Thus an oil rather than banana republic.

            But my statement stands. I don’t claim that it’s all been rosy, only that Venezuela historically was much better off than neighbors and reached standards in developed countries (perhaps only in the 50s and then moderately up to the 70s and beyond). I am too lazy to look this up in more detail. I will just cite wikipedia and refs therein: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Venezuela

          • “it has created its unusual share of problems making it dependent on export of one commodity but otherwise heavily dependent on imports (Dutch disease). Thus an oil rather than banana republic.”

            There you go again, trying to explain Venezuela’s problems by evoking oil (which was exactly my point up above… you might talk to Syd who claims that no one does that around here…)

            What you just said doesn’t stand up to 5 seconds of rational thought. Venezuela was very dependent on one commodity (coffee), and dependent on imports, long before oil was discovered.

          • Of course you don’t say “oil is the source of all our problems.” That would in fact be overly simplifying things.

          • I know GAC’s comments are a waste of time, still Ill use his attempt at a comment to clarity my last post to other readers . Understanding Venezuela’s problems cant bypass the subject of oil , its the source of our greatest blessings and of our greater dissapointments , having it is not the problem, its our rulers incapacity to use it to improve the lot of all Venezuelans which is the problem and worse yet the use given to it by the Chavez regime to politically corrupt large segments of our population and enroll them in a ruinous dystopic quest for a system of absolute despotism . The thing to understand ( and it will be easier for you to understand this if your are educated ) is that Oil is not necessarily a curse , its our inability to handle it with sane rationality which is a curse , this is were education comes in , but not just any education , but an education that teaches people to judge when our oil income is being managed and used sanely and wisely and when it is being wasted or used for purely populist short term purposes or to gratify with farcical schemes the frivolous conceits of narcicist rulers.

          • “Oil is not necessarily a curse , its our inability to handle it with sane rationality which is a curse.”

            Wrong again Bill. Venezuela’s oil wealth has been used by various governments throughout the 20th century, and often quite rationally. It has been invested in agricultural projects, industrial endeavors, social programs, etc. etc. But these investments have always failed.

            What you don’t seem to understand is that development isn’t a product of how the government manages resource wealth. Countries don’t achieve economic development through commodity booms or by carefully investing resource wealth into their local economy.

            A government could come to power tomorrow and use the oil wealth 100 percent corruption-free and with the utmost rationality, yet Venezuela would remain a poor, underdeveloped country due to the structural problems of its economy. This creates a logic in which no matter how much money is invested by the government, most of it simply goes to consumption and speculative activities.

          • Ok, so what is a country like Norway, heavily dependent on oil, doing right, if not using its resource “rationally”?

          • The point is that regardless of whether or not Norway uses its resources “rationally”, its economic development is not a product of this. IN fact, it was developing long before it had even discovered oil.

          • GAC: the Norwegian government takes special measures to deal with the “burden” imposed by the export of oil. Norway was relatively quite poor until the exploitation of oil in the 70s.

            again wikipedia:
            “Norway has obtained one of the highest standards of living in the world in part by having a large amount of natural resources compared to the size of the population. In 2011, 28% of state revenues were generated from the petroleum industry

            Export revenues from oil and gas have risen to almost 50% of total exports and constitute more than 20% of the GDP.[81] Norway is the fifth largest oil exporter and third largest gas exporter in the world, but it is not a member of OPEC. To reduce overheating in the economy from oil revenues and minimize uncertainty from volatility in oil price, and to provide a cushion for the effect of aging of the population, the Norwegian government in 1995 established the sovereign wealth fund (“Government Pension Fund — Global”), which would be funded with oil revenues, including taxes, dividends, sales revenues and licensing fees”

            Not sure what your point is, but there is no doubt that proper management could have accomplished similar results in Venezuela, and that the current government is not going about it quite the right way.

          • “Norway was relatively quite poor until the exploitation of oil in the 70s.”

            Holy Christ you are clueless. I would recommend looking to something other than wikipedia if you seek to understand Norway’s economic development.

            Norway underwent an industrial revolution in the early 20th century, and by 1960 had among the highest GDP’s/capita even among the most developed European countries at the time, higher than the United Kingdom, France, Germany, etc. It had DOUBLE Venezuela’s GDP in 1960, years before oil was found.

            As I said before, how they manage their oil wealth is not what led to their economic development. Not to mention the fact that your whole theory that “Venezuela is poor because it doesn’t know how to manage its oil wealth” relies on the notion that Venezuelans are just somehow dumber than Norwegians, and that’s why they can’t figure it out. Simply racist nonsense.

          • Lets go through this:

            (1) Norway underwent an industrial revolution in the early 20th century, and by 1960 had among the highest GDP’s/capita even among the most developed European countries at the time, higher than the United Kingdom, France, Germany, etc. It had DOUBLE Venezuela’s GDP in 1960, years before oil was found.

            What you say is true. I was comparing Norway with the other Scandinavian countries, which I would guess it most resembles.

            (2) As I said before, how they manage their oil wealth is not what led to their economic development.

            How you manage oil wealth has much to do with development. Do a comparative study of oil producing regions of the world and you’ll discover that differences in management are very important. The point I made with Norway is that it has applied pretty sound management of its oil wealth. I never said WHY!

            (3) Not to mention the fact that your whole theory that “Venezuela is poor because it doesn’t know how to manage its oil wealth” relies on the notion that Venezuelans are just somehow dumber than Norwegians, and that’s why they can’t figure it out. Simply racist nonsense.

            I never said “Venezuela is poor because it doesn’t know how to manage its oil wealth”. But it’s true. And Venezuelans are on average less educated than Norwegians. Sorry! You are the racist one by implying this has anything at all to do with race, I would never suggest that. I would only claim that education has been not equally available in Venezuela to all in the past, and that racist practices are partly to blame.

          • “I was comparing Norway with the other Scandinavian countries”

            Ha, nice excuse. However, Norway was not poor in comparison to other Scandinavian countries either. So you’re wrong about that too.

            “How you manage oil wealth has much to do with development. Do a comparative study of oil producing regions of the world and you’ll discover that differences in management are very important.”

            Those studies have already been done, (Karl, 1997) and what they show is that poor countries all have similar problems in managing oil wealth, whereas Norway, which was already developed, manages it better.

            If anything it tells us the opposite of what you say, not that managing oil wealth affects development, but rather that the level of development affects the way countries manage their oil wealth.

            “I never said “Venezuela is poor because it doesn’t know how to manage its oil wealth”. But it’s true.”

            You implied it. And now you just admitted it.

            “I would only claim that education has been not equally available in Venezuela to all in the past, and that racist practices are partly to blame.”

            So then you have to explain why education was not available in Venezuela, and was available in Norway. But the truth is that education was not widely available in Norway around the time of its industrial revolution and beginning of its development, so this explanation also fails.

            In the end, your explanation isn’t an explanation at all. It simply leads to more questions for which you don’t have good explanations.

          • Hmmmm…

            (1) “Those studies have already been done, (Karl, 1997) and what they show is that poor countries all have similar problems in managing oil wealth, whereas Norway, which was already developed, manages it better.”

            Thanks for the ref, I’ll look it up

            (2) “If anything it tells us the opposite of what you say, not that managing oil wealth affects development, but rather that the level of development affects the way countries manage their oil wealth.”

            I don’t think I stated anything that disagrees with the fact that more developed countries are (usually) better equipped to exploit new opportunities such as the discovery of natural resources. I thought this was kind of obvious. But countries with high levels of development comparable to Norway’s have also had problems with the discovery of massive natural resources, thus the term “Dutch disease” was coined.

            But I think you are attempting to apologize for various problems encountered in Venezuela during the Chavez years, as being due to the circumstance of starting off in a bad state? My argument is that while Venezuela had mayor problems as the 90s ended (one reason Chavez won the presidency), and certainly not all that has happened in the last 14 years is Chavez’ fault, he did not help. In other words, it probably would probably have been better if the status quo had been maintained in 1998, in terms of both social and economic development, but then I guess we’ll never know. Now I doubt Venezuela would have gotten through these last 14 years without problems regardless of whom administered the government, but things would not likely be in such a sorry state.

          • I was actually just making the point that you “educated” Venezuelans don’t know any better about Venezuela’s problems and their solutions than those poor “uneducated” Venezuelans that you all try to blame for the current situation.

            You’ve just demonstrated that point beautifully.

          • “I was actually just making the point that you “educated” Venezuelans don’t know any better about Venezuela’s problems and their solutions than those poor “uneducated” Venezuelans that you all try to blame for the current situation.”

            Wow! I am flattered and taken aback! I for one (and I don’t know if I can speak for every educated Venezuelan, poor or not) never said any such thing! Certainly nobody places the blame on the poor for bad decision making by the government! However as a political constituency they have been electing the government that has failed to perform as it should. And that government has uneducated people who are to blame. The country would very likely be in much better shape for all concerned without the current government having been in charge for 14 years.

            As for knowing how to handle Venezuela’s problems, I think I have some reasonable ideas. Like you I think Venezuela can definitely learn from the example of other oil producing countries and from its own rich and convoluted history.

          • I notice you like to directly contradict yourself within only a few seconds.

            First you say:

            “I for one (and I don’t know if I can speak for every educated Venezuelan, poor or not) never said any such thing!”

            Then you immediately say:

            “they have been electing the government that has failed to perform as it should. And that government has uneducated people who are to blame. The country would very likely be in much better shape for all concerned without the current government having been in charge for 14 years.”

            You said exactly what I accused you of…. blaming poor “uneducated” Venezuelans for the current situation.

          • Hehe, I realized that when I wrote this. Thing is, it all depends on how much blame you place on elected officials versus the people who elect them. Take the scenario of the Caracazo. You certainly wouldn’t blame the people who elected CAP for committing atrocities would you?

          • Feo: Im not sure Norway is the model to follow because they probably did not need oil to reach development , they ve used it wisely , but contrary to us they had something that allowed them to reach development without using their oil income . and that was their human capital and a culture that allowed it to reach full potential in economic and functional terms . The problem is that for countries like ourselves , in large part failed societies oil can be an important factor in helping us reach development but oil alone can not do it unless we as a society , not only as a government learn to take advantage of the wealth that oil affords us to make changes in how we see and do things , Oil can be the catalyst but the change has to happen in peoples disposition and mind before its use bears fruit. We cannot see the past use of oil in totally negative terms , a lot was done and a lot was achieved . We only have to see ourselves in the 40’s and then in later decades , our educational health and economic infrastucture made many advances that would not have been possible but for the oil income we recieved , we became a more advanced people , without doubt . At the same time oil fueled an irresponsible attitude in many of our political leaders in that they saw oil income as just a way of buying on the cheap the support of the less advanced but more numerous people in our society through absolutely irrational and corrupt populist measures , They failed to transform their lives and minds in a way that allowed them to become vehicles of development rather than a deadweight to development . Our politicians and government dependents as a whole had few organisational or management skills , and the corrupt populist policies took a toll in worsening the operation of government and other parts of society . The less advanced but more numerous people were being bribed on the cheap but their lives where not being transformed in any meaningful way , they grew accostummed to the populist bribes that populist govts gave them so that when oil prices fell and the governments could no longer keep the corrupt pinata going and were forced ( caps second term) to start taking measures to wind down popular populist measures and start converting Venezuelan into a rational market economy affecting not only poor people but also the cliques that had grown rich by way of their government connections all hell broke loose leading us to the sorry state we are today . Oil alone cannot get us out of this mess , neither the populist irrantional policies of the current regime which migh make innocent people happy with their baubles and cosmetized emotional histrionics but which are only digging us deeper into ruin as a country and as a people. What is the answer ??
            By no means does it bypass the use of oil , nobody believes that ! but something extra is needed and that goes thru using the oil income to really create the wealth and welfare that can not only keep th epoorest happy but teach them a new productive practical responsible way to behave and think , and thats a long long task!!with no magic formulas !!

          • Thanks Bill, for proving my point so well.

            You demonstrate here that you not only do not understand the root of the problem, but also have no clue what the solution is.

            In other words, your so-called “education” hasn’t given you any more insight than those “uneducated” poor Venezuelans that you all like to blame for Venezuela’s current situation.

            Maybe, just maybe, its time for you all to stop pretending like you know what the answer is, and that the poor are too unsophisticated to know what’s in their best interests.

          • Thanks for your answer, Bill. As you say it takes a lot of political willpower and the right know-how to figure out how to manage a reliance on a single export commodity.

          • Actually, if you simply scroll up and read, I did not begin with any insults, but was immediately responded to with insults.

          • You forgot unaccountable delirante, loroferoz. Imagínate, estos tarifados cubanoides han debido solucionar los problemas que identificaron hace 14 años. Pero no, todavía andan dizque *estudiandito* el problema. Cuerda de necios.

    • My advice was clear in early March: not running. I’m coming around to that idea once again.

      Having decided to run, I think he should stick to being negative all – the – time. No talk about what he would do, he needs to only talk about Maduro, Diosdado, Jaua, and the rest. The CNE thing is bizarre and confusing. Tibisay is not on the ballot.

      • The fact that JC is so sure that Capriles will lose is actually worrying me, because he has a near perfect track record of getting these things completely wrong almost 100 percent of the time.

        If history is any guide, this should mean that Capriles will probably win.

      • JC you have to factor into that consideration the moral value of what the opposition movement- Capriles’ running- is creating in Venezuela.

        If you look at the thousands of people, thousands of kids, from all walks of life, going to these rallies, voluntarily, committing their time to the campaign, putting themselves- once again- at risk, I think what you see is the value of Venezuelans uniting (once again) to voice their opposition to the regime. Not to sound too lofty..well, to sound too lofty, it is an expression of hope and human dignity, not to submit to this malignant, petro-fuelled authoritarian juggernaut. Not to be silent and not to give in to lies. Even if, in electoral terms, Maduro may prevail. There is running for the purpose of taking power. That is what Maduro is doing, pure and simple. There is not a living idea in that campaign. It is about sustaining the status quo. And there is running for a greater purpose. If you are running simply to take power, then yes, that justifies abstention in the face of difficult odds.

      • The CNE thing is bizarre and confusing. Tibisay is not on the ballot.

        Can you imagine NOT mentioning the CNE thing? I’m glad Capriles mentioned it AND Tibisay; she’s part of the ballot-equation.

  8. I’ve always thought that one of the main handicaps of the oppo is the lack of a compelling narrative. Chavismo narrative, with all its chaos, contradictions, conspiracy theorizing and quite frankly, downright lunacy sometimes, is very powerful to attract the masses (of course, this narrative was supported by the enormous popularity of the late Hugo Chávez) and, while confusing and unappealing to educated middle class people, is, at least in my opinion, very effective. It’s our challenge to find a narrative that makes all venezuelans “fall in love” with our vision for the country.

    • I have to agree with DavidLat Am above, that the coherence behind the officialista message is the coherence of a kind of fascism. The problem that Maduro encounters, though, is that he clearly is not “echt” pueblo. When Maduro wears a cowboy hat, he doesn’t look like a llanero, he looks like a fat tourist. When Maduro says that Capriles never lived under a tin roof, it is more than apparent that neither has he. (He was playing electric bass and listening to Saga albums…)

      In short, the ‘corazon de mi pueblo’ transplant does not look like it is taking too well. I hope Maduro gets in lots of campaign stops because the more people see him, the more they will be revolted by him.

    • Good point! The key words are upward mobility. First, the problem involves trust. I mean, the wealthy have to argue that they are going to extend a hand to make everyone better off. Exactly how I can’t say, but at the core of the touchy-feely affection for Chavismo lies a similar promise, the idea that the government IS there for them. This is where Maduro is chipping away, hard.

      Second, beyond the baseline of providing a basic living standard, this means in addition creating the dream of opportunity (remember Obama’s hope?). Chavistas may have created just an illusion of this, but that’s enough to keep you going for another electoral cycle.

      And I am not being cynical, those are the messages you obviously have to send and deliver on.

      There are other issues, unquestionably one is the entitlement mentality. And no doubt, there is the class warfare aspect, the just plain pissed off voter, and Maduro is milking that cow too.

      The problem with Maduro is really trust. The guy just seems a totally waste of a vote.

    • From Art. 233:
      Cuando se produzca la falta absoluta del Presidente o Presidenta de la República durante los primeros cuatro años del período constitucional, se procederá a una nueva elección universal y directa dentro de los treinta días consecutivos siguientes. Mientras se elige y toma posesión el nuevo Presidente o Presidenta, se encargará de la Presidencia de la República el Vicepresidente Ejecutivo o Vicepresidenta Ejecutiva.

      Nothing about when the handover occurs. It just says ‘…..while the new president is elected and takes possession the Executive Vice President is in charge of the presidency.”

      So theoretically Capriles could win on the 14th and take over……..Never, while the Supreme Court dithers and dathers and looks in their belly buttons for wisdom. (And all relevant paper trails are burned).

      Can you imagine the scene, Capriles wins and goes to Miraflores on the 15th at 9 AM and asks for the keys? Ay papa!!

  9. JCN, I’m not sure I understand the premise of either/or on this issue. What’s so wrong with telling people to vote *despite* the unfairness? Perhaps the message is not being well-evoked, but the message itself is not a wrong one. Reminds me of the movie Victory (w/Pelé) in which they had to play at an exaggerated disadvantage. They still played, even when they had the opportunity to bail out, as you seem to suggest Capriles should have done.

      • So, a fight of principle is only worth fighting if the point loss is no more than…? And, as any ad agency would ask, wouldn’t staying out of it be tantamount to a missed opportunity to get the message out for next time? And, wouldn’t a nothing to lose situation be the perfect opportunity to go all out with a Hail Mary, like UCT?

  10. Roberto N said: “It’s not him, it’s those around him” Well, guess who’s running now? Those around him! Great! This is something I haven’t seen brought up much in the campaing and I think chavistas should be reminded of this over and over again. After all, this is what they said for 13 years and was the main excuse of why the Chavez government was not efficient and not able to deliver on their promises. Also, resurrect more of the videos where Chavez tells Maduro that he’s not doing a good jon or not doing what he was supposed to in order to emphasize the prior.

  11. The only one that confuses me at this point is you, my dear Juan. I mean, I understand that you’re hedging your bets, in the event of a Capriles loss. But I think you may be rationalizing things too deeply.

    I don’t have problem with messages of arrechera towards — as Capriles has identified — the tarifados, the enchufados, and the roadblocks they’ve created. I also don’t have a problem hearing messages that unite the larger body politic.

    What I would have a problem with is a candidate who cancels the last flicker of hope, until 2015, by drawing a too-harsh panorama. There are other ways to paint the landscape. There are also other ways to lessen the impact of the coming financial hardships by freeing up funds, as Capriles has already implied, now going towards the support of:

    * Cubans in the military, Cubans as medicuchos, and Cubans as personnel in all entry and exit points of Venezuela.
    * Other governments that have not shown themselves to be creative about developing their own industries, or finding markets for same.

    I can think, too, of lessening the impact of the current bloated civil service, by freezing new hirees and allowing attrition to take place, say for the first two years.

    Capriles’s version 1.0 stated: “Nadie dijo que iba a ser fácil”. I doubt many have forgotten that. I doubt anyone outside of delusionals thinks that, in the event of a Capriles victory, things are going to be easy. But there are ways to say things, moreover, if you’re an expert politician.

    Now, I’m no genius. But I seem to get what Capriles is all about. I especially get Capriles v. 2.0. So does Gladys Ibarra. http://globovision.com/articulo/aristas-venezolanos-manifestaran-hoy-su-apoyo-a-henrique-capriles

  12. For the opposition, this election is not about winning, it’s about riding the momentum taking advantage the world is focused on Venezuela after HCF’s passing. It’s about rising above any conventional expectations of a conventional campaign. Nothing conventional here, the odds are unsurmountable. These are extraordinary times for the country, and any truths that can be voiced at this time, must be done so, loudly. Because the silence after the elections, is going to be deafening.

  13. Capriles had to run for the Oppo to be at all viable for the future when the Venezuelan economy finally sufficiently disappoints the Chavista masses, and some sort of acomodo will be made with a probable Diosdado-led military faction, to the detriment of the Maduro Cuban Communists. Any other Oppo candidate would lose even more heavily against the Petro State entitlement machinery, and leave the Oppo as an irrelevant force for the future. Losing even by 20 points will still be a victory, given the circumstances, and will still leave the Oppo viable at the inevitable economic collapse (already beginning to happen now).

    • agree that even if Capriles loses on 14A, he wins a substantial oppo force, especially if he gains more votes than he did on 7O. That why, even in the face of voter fatigue, abstention is now critically unacceptable.

      While I can see the possibility of Diosdado-led military faction taking over, I doubt that the Cuban communists will give up the ‘coroto’. Hence the logic behind the civic-military alliance created in Havana with Raúl’s blessings. Perhaps the alliance will become military-civic, instead.

      As for the inevitable economic collapse, creating viabilities for the oppo, since when has economic collapses mattered to the Cuban apparatchiks?

      • Syd, the difference between Cuba and Venezuela is that in Cuba the 30% best/brightest abandoned the fight and emigrated, while in Venezuela only some 3% have done so (I mean, we still have Winston Vallenilla, et. al.-lol)

  14. Is anyone connected to the campaign?. I think an effective ad for Capriles would be to face the camera and try to convince all the people who abstain to vote. The message should be simple staying at home nothing will change, voting at least gives you an opportunity to turn things around. Nini people tend to forget that day to day stuff works because there are policies in place even if uneffective ones. But maybe some are so disfranchised that would not care for any pledge.

  15. “Capriles had to run for the Oppo to be at all viable for the future when the Venezuelan economy finally sufficiently disappoints the Chavista masses, and some sort of acomodo will be made with a probable Diosdado-led military faction, to the detriment of the Maduro Cuban Communists.”

    Does anyone suppose there is a significant rift in the military over the Cuban involvement and stated pro-Maduro posture? I can’t imagine there isn’t.

  16. I would like to read a post on the artistas event held Friday in chacao. It was very well done, does anyone think of it as a game changer?

    So many known faces from the cultural world (dear novelas), and exceptional performances by Padron, Pino I. and naturaly Francisco de Miranda and the typical student.

    I felt so home sick it hurted.

  17. GAC: You are right that education doesnt always guarantee full understanding of the 3rd world Petrostate phenomena , but a lack of education almost certainly guarantees that you will never achieve any understanding of what are the causes and remedies of under development in an oil rich country , For instance you yourself seem to have no clue (no pun intended) of how oil income transformed venezuela in many meaningful ways creating a country that in large measure was developed but leaving behind a segment of population which had only a fringe understanding of what it meant to for them to reach membership in a developed society . the inability ot Venezuelan society and government integrate this last segment of society with the developed part ultimately causing the dysfunctional social and political situation you see today .There were people who understood this and wrote books about it which were totally ignored, I remember a very large solvent well run company being told by 1st world financiers why they had to pay more interest on a loan than a similar company in other places : ” you are first world company with a third world address”. Of course that company no longer exists , the revolution destroyed it, because the revolution is the vengeance which the third world part of Venezuela has visited on its more developed part . The undeveloped part can destroy the developed part of Venezuela but evidently lacks the means or capacity to reach development , only of causing itself to sink into a greater degree of primitive backwardness . Once I heard the formula in a roomful of real economic experts on how Venezuela could reach development , they said “have the economy grow at a 6% rate for 12 years running with stable population growth and you get there” then they changed their calculus “no you need 7 and a half percent growth because the ruling cliques will take the gravy off the top and that means that greater growth is needed” ( the numbers are made up the language is real) . I think that they were not wrong but too optimistic , in that to achieve that kind of growth you really have to change peoples mentality in a way which takes steady effort and many years . By the way Im not interested in besting you in any argument or in hearing you proclaim Im so smart I beat you and u are stupid , thats really infantile , Im interested in this topic for real, lets be grown ups, ( if you can)

    • Bill,

      You don’t make an argument here. You simply chain together a long line of vague claims like “the undeveloped part is destroying the developed part” and “someone once told me” and “there are people who write books” etc. etc. But what is extremely apparent is that you know nothing about economic development:

      Venezuela was never anywhere close to a developed country, nor did it ever demonstrate any of the key features of a developed country (high labor productivity, innovation, agrarian revolution, industrial revolution, etc. etc.) It exhibited signs of a country with a lot of oil wealth that could use this wealth to marginally improve living standards and invest in infrastructure and development projects which mostly failed. The private sector has long demonstrated the same structural problems as other undeveloped countries, like an inability to raise productivity, to meet growing demand, etc. To claim otherwise is to completely misunderstand Venezuelan economic history.

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