Where does $150 translate into more votes? In New Orleans? Or in Guasdualito?

Wasting scarce resources never felt so good
Not shown: the voters in rural Venezuela that the campaign couldn’t mobilize because all the money ended up paying for this bus.

Be forewarned, gentle reader: I come to bury the Mayamero voter in New Orleans, not to praise him.

By now, you’ve probably heard the story: in one of its upteen zillion dirty tricks, the National Electoral Council shut down voting at Venezuela’s consulate in Miami, in a move to disenfranche tens of thousands of almost-entirely anti-chavista voters. It was a galling maneuver, nobody doubts that, and part of a sustained pattern of CNE ventajismo.

So far, so agreed.

Since the decision came into effect, the opposition’s favorite folk has been a motley crew of Miami die-hards who’ve decided to call CNE’s bluff, bussing themselves hundreds of miles to their new appointed polling station, in largely venezolano-free New Orleans.

Last October, 8,375 people voted for Henrique Capriles in New Orleans, the vast bulk of them from South Florida. This year, at least 3,000  are expected to make the trek.  Everybody loves to love those guys…everybody, it seems, but me.

Just bear with me here: It’s hard to imagine a roundtrip from Miami to New Orleans is doable for less than $150 – probably quite a bit more once you’re through with gas, lodging, food, etc. 

Now, let’s estimate 7,000 mayameros make the trek tomorrow. At $150 each, that’s over a million dollars spent on this ego-gratification stunt. A million dollars, you will notice, that the Comando Simón Bolívar won’t get to spend mobilizing people back home, where $150 dollars pays for enough cachitos, telephone cards and taxis to mobilize…well, I’m not sure how many, but certainly many more voters than one.

Mayameros in New Orleans cast the most expensive votes in Venezuela – save from the poor deluded souls that actually fly back home from North America or Europe to cast a vote, wasting thousands in the process instead of re-registering in their new home consulates.

It’s our old friend opportunity cost again. Each mayamero-in-New-Orleans’ warm, fuzzy sense of fulfilled duty costs Henrique Capriles at least two, and probably more like 4 or 5 votes not mobilized back home, where mobilization is run on a desperate shoestring.

Or, put another way, if you don’t think Henrique Capriles is competent enough to turn an extra million bucks in campaign money into substantially more than 7,000 extra votes, why the heck would you want to vote for the guy in the first place?

But remember, we’re supposed to celebrate those guys…their moral courage, their entrega! Ugh.

Guys, grow up.

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  1. La verdad es que en esta te pasaste de ridículo, que carajo te importa a ti que vengan de Tukusiapon o vayan a Timbuktu a ejercer su derecho, gracias le debieras por tener conciencia cívica!

      • I could get on a high horse and bitch about your tone, Quico, or about how ill-timed this post is, or about how your post is, wait for it, “Quico at his worst.”

        But I won’t, because even though I don’t understand the reason behind it, the substance of your post is correct…

        • mi abuela, que en paz descanse, antes de contar cualquier chisme decia “yo no opino, pero…”

          no se si fue en chiste, o si en serio lo tuyo jc… pero que bajeza…

      • Francisco. I don’t have a single friend who is flying to Venezuela to vote because they forgot to register. The deadline to register in your consulate was April last year. Seriously dude don’t make a fool of yourself.

        In a totally unrelated matter. I totally agree that rich guys who are paying for plane tickets for people abroad should instead give money to MUD to mobilize people from zonas populares.

      • This is a great post and you make a very good point; that doesn’t mean people wanna hear it, but I’ll do you one better: our votes (domestic or abroad) don’t count anyway because we don’t live in democracy. Anyone who believes otherwise is a fool. It is absolutely ludicrous and absurd to see people complain about how the country is turning into another Cuba, while they still believe that the elections are fair ( right, because the oficialistas will disrespect our national anthem but they’re such democrats that they would never dare rig the elections.) The worst and most precocious dictatorships are the ones that convince their peoples that they live in democracy.

      • Un autobus para 40 votantes cuesta Bs. 2.500.
        Un motorizado por el día, para 15 votantes, Bs. 400
        Una tarjeta telefónica para apoyar a 20 testigos, Bs. 100.

      • Well I liked it. It was a fair point, besides I, personally do not get why is everyone so sympathetic to the “mayameros”. I think for years they have been doing a terrible job representing us on the international level and I, frankly hate being associated with one of them. I have meet a few in the past and every single one of them felt like character out of the mokumentary “Caracas: Ciudad de despedidas” It was just like Quico said lots of self-righteousness no real grasp of politics and very dissociated from reality.

        Say what you say about immigration, crime rate, etc… The reality is most of us decided to stay behind and fight for the cause…

        I understand if some of them had to leave for for REAL reasons like political persecution, but I know that statistically speaking it can not be the majority of them.

  2. While it’s definitely a HARD pill to swallow…I must say that your logic is undeniable.

    Live long and prosper.

    BTW: I think that part of the reason this happens is that (AFAIK) nobody did a serious effort for telling them just that: “Guys, I know you want to get back on chavismo, but the best possible way to do so is give your money to the MUD instead on using it on yourselves, because for every vote that you’re not casting, you’re helping 5 to be cast, so in a way, is like you’re voting five times :)”

  3. This time you blew it buddy. You missed the point altogether. For a very sharp dude as you, that must have been allergy to corny than plain shortsight.
    It turns our my friend that the real value of that fable is to create encouragement to people who has it pretty much easier top cast a vote than catching a coach and ride 800 miles back and forth. So don’t get stuck in the story.

      • Wealthy? You got data points, I am sure. Wealthy expats fly to New Orleans and stay the weekend. As I understand it, a lot of your compatriots are riding the bus.

        • Even more, many of them are getting free rides in buses paid with donations… I just read on Facebook the following message:
          “A venezolanos que no tienen dinero para viajar a New Orleans, les informamos, que en JC. Bermúdez, de la 87 Av y la 31 St, Doral, hay un autobús vacío. Llevar Cedula de identidad laminada, vigente o vencida.”

      • Is your guilt over not voting on 14A — that is, after your oh-woe-is-me stance on 7O — contributing to your pataleta over the efforts of those whose conscience, sense of duty, and willingness to contribute to history.

        As for narcissism, what irony to read that label from one who personifies it.

        What a bunch of whiny jerks…

      • And the image of a “pajarito” may infuriate another bunch to eat seeds. No one can construct credible social theories on the basis of possibilities. You need data, otherwise you venture into speculation territory where fortune tellers have the upper hand.

      • Come on! If you wanna stick to your point well do it, you just don’t need such rethorical approach. I mean, it well may also spark some rabbits impulse to eat stripped candy instead of carrots

  4. I believe tomorrow will be even closer than the last election. Maduro is self destructing and there are a ton of soft Chavistas out there. I’m not saying Maduro will win, but I do think turnout will be down a lot and that will hurt the government…

  5. Well, in case our PSF friends ever run out of evidence that Quico is an out-of-touch rich kid, there’s always this post.

    You want to argue realpolitik? Consider the future implications of teaching the growing expat community that what they should do is send money and stay home. That exercising their right to vote doesn’t matter, because cleverer minds than theirs can handle their money better.

    I thought Juan’s whinefest was this blog’s nadir, but there’s deeper to dig, it seems.

    • The sad reality is that on a purely numerical basis the best thing an expat can do probably is to send some dosh back home. If you take 5 min. to think about it, you’ll realize that’s obvious.

      Anyway, it’s you vs. math there buddy, good luck with that.

      • I was not arguing against the math. If every oppo gave 1 dollar, Capriles would have 30,000,000 to play with. Here? There? Neither.

        I very specifically raised the concern of having a generation (mayameros are humnan and reproduce, you might find) raised with the mindset of “just send money and let the party chiefs find the votes”. Tammany-upon-Doral. Doesn’t seem like a good idea at all.

      • And maybe they have send money, who knows, but again, it all about running a campaign on focus entirely to win, people gladly would have sent money…

      • Its not always about money. I have a son who wants to return to live in Venezuela. He did his university in the UK and then six months in China and is now in Australia. He feels that by casting his vote it is the only thing he can do to make it possible for him to come back to work in Venezuela. He can’t register abroad because of the time scales. I found your blog extremely insensitive to those people , far from being narcissistic, they have a patriotism that puts some of your comments into the garbage bin they deserve.

      • You are criticizing people for not renouncing to their legitimate right to vote and instead send money to somebody to do something (who knows what) that would be more productive. You know better than many that the amount of money spent is not proportional to the results, and viceversa. I wonder, as I have in many other of your posts, whether you are using Christopher Hutchins trick of yelling man bites dog to stir up things a bit. I dislike some of the rabid oppo people living in Doralzuela, but I would never critize them for deciding to take the trip to vote.

      • Imagine how many from the D and E sectors could have been mobilized by the CSB, if Quico had donated the funds used in a family trip to Japan.

      • I don’t know if it’s obvious. I mean, sure, 1 million dollars sounds great, but just the fact of legally converting them into Bs at a 6.30 exchange rate turns that million into something more like 300k in real terms. If you want to consider the same scenario using an illegal exchange rate, I would suggest to factor in the risk behind being caught accepting said money and the implications it may have for Capriles’ candidacy.

        Anyways, now we’re talking about putting 300k into venezuelan elections to maybe get more than 7000 votes or putting a million to essentially guarantee a specific amount of votes. the question becomes “can we GUARANTEE more than 7000 votes?”

        Under these circumstances (1k gets you 7 votes abroad), even if putting money into getting voters at home were three times as effective (1k gives you 21 voters) you still end up with 6300 voters. What this all means is that you’d have to be able to guarantee your million dollars can get you 3.333 times as effective at home to get the SAME NUMBER OF VOTERS.

        There are more elements to this though, for instance, the scale of this weird migration brings some free publicity with it, which may even have a positive impact with voters at home. This also makes it harder to get the same bang for your buck.

        I am not saying these people are making the absolute best use of their money, but it’s not necessarily a stupid decision altogether.

  6. I actually wrote about this for EU after last time: http://www.eluniversal.com/opinion/121025/oh-y-ahora-quien-podra-defenderme and, predictably, got rather reamed for suggesting that it might not be the most efficient use of resources. I understand that some people view “their vote” as something deeply important symbolically, by virtue of it being theirs, but I likewise think that the government has benefited from viewing votes as a commodity. (Obviously, they have likewise benefited from much else as well.) The opposition might likewise benefit from realizing it can ill afford to make symbolism a priority right now – at least at the individual level.

      • you got it, but also it’s not about criticizing every single thing that the oppo does bad, like nobody is perfect, and if people want to spend 1000 dollars going to vote go for it, you know New Orleans is always a great place to visit

  7. Maybe the one that needs to growp up is you. I bet that if you were a Mayamero under the same situation, you not only will pay those $150 bucks, you will also write about it so people read how good you are by doing it. If a group of people want to spend $150 or more each of their money so they want to exercise their right to vote, would you call that stupid? You better think again before posting another article. Verguenza es lo que debe darte.

    • What I think it shows is that Miami-based anti-chavistas are so disconnected from the day-to-day lives of the millions of class D and E Venezuelans who make up the vast majority not just of the electorate but also of Capriles’s voting base that they can’t conceive that tens of thousands of people who would vote for Capriles if the campaign organizes a ride to get them to the polls probably won’t turn out if it doesn’t have the resources to do so…

      • Claro estoy totalmente de acuerdo pero pregunto si el comando de campaña activamente ha hecho propaganda para recaudar fondos, los mayameros igual que todos los venezolanos felizmente hubieran podido colaborar, insisto con copiarse de los democratas especialmente de la campaña que hizo Obama, ahi esta …

        Y entiendo la critica hacia ese sentimiento que pareciera que son mejores qur todos… pero no es culpa de ellos tampoco… igual pienso que la gente que va a votar en Venezuela con un consejo electoral chavista esta totalmente ilusionada con pajaritos preñados, eso es lo que me duele ver… yo, con mi pesimismo de siempre, sin sentirme que las elecciones son justas no puedo esperar peras al olmo

        • Los numeros de las cuentas bancarias de la MUD y de la campaña de Capriles han estado a la vista de todo el mundo en Facebook, sus cuentas de Tweeter y muchas otras partes. El que no ha contribuido es porque no se ha interesado por hacerlo.

          • No creo que haya sido así como tu comentario dice, creo que ha debido de haber mas intención de recaudar fondos entre Venezolanos viviendo en el extranjero. A lo mejor se ve diferente dentro de Venezuala. Será ya para la proxima si es que va a haber otra oportunidad. 🙁

      • Yo no se que pasa en CC, primero Juan con su desmedido comentario, y ahora este otro de Francisco Toro, pana yo creo que necesitan bajarle dos con el ego no se.

        De donde sacaron esa cifra de los 150$ por votantes, como eso se convirtio en 1 millon de dolares??? Tienen copia de las facturas??? Evidencias quien necesita evidencia??, si con mi comentario basta y sobra.

        No sabia que viajar en autobus te hacia automaticamente millonario?? Verga me entero. Y lo mas chistoso es que un carajo, viviendo en el exterior, critica que otros que estan viviendo en el exterior ejerciendo su DEBER y DERECHO civico, si este carajo ni va a votar. Como si la culpa de que el no vote fuera de los que viven en Miami.

        Crees que por hablar de lo mal de lo que estan pasando los pobres en Venezuela, y “simpatizar” con ellos, y de lo urgente que es “ayudarlos”, automaticamente te da licencia para despotricar del resto?

        Uff tanta malcriadez e inmadurez politica cansa…

  8. Risky post.

    I agree that I’ve had it with the over-celebration and praise of the 7000 people who make the trip. There are hundreds of things I’d rather read about. But it’s their right, and I thank them for doing so.

    You thus have entered a realm of critic that I believe doesn’t end anywhere. Why do a march?, people who attend could be doing social activities that do help make a change, why waste money in tricolor caps?, it could be used moving persons to vote here.

    I think this was not needed 🙂


  9. toro… solid calculations, not so solid tone… i agree with your math, but as kernel_panic suggests it might be an issue that individual voters were not informed / aware of their possible multiplicative effect…

    i guess what i don´t like about your article is that somehow you assume that the mayamero (horrible term, btw) knowingly went to NOLA instead of donating the money to the CSB because they wanted to gratify their ego instead of collaborating to the general cause… tan poco piensas del vzolano expatriado?

    floja esta semana en ccs chronicles… entre la pataleta de jc y tu insulto a buena parte de tus lectores (lets be honest, who among us ccs chrons readers doesnt have family or friends in MIA?) no se cual es peor…

    • Quico is a wealthy expat that doesn’t vote. Donating cash is probably how he assuages his conscience, so of course he’s going to write a narcissistic, self-fellating post about it.

      When he was done, he probably felt like Mitt Romney when he came up with “47%”, or Obama when he finished the “clinging to guns and religion” speech.

      • Wait a minute, EA. Quico DID leave his ‘sentado en una nalga’ excuse-ridden command post last 7O — the first time he exercised his civic duty in YEARS — about 10 or more, right Quico? Quico goes and hides, and hurriedly pens another post to cover up comment tracks.

  10. You are dead wrong on this one Francisco. You may argue opportunity cost all you like but this is emphatically not about economics. This is about civic duty, personal responsibility, and accountability. I am shocked those concepts seem alien to you.

    Dude, despite the importance of the abysmal science in the modern world, you *cannot* discount the aforementioned values, Using words such as narcissism to describe these efforts is ridiculous and offensive on your part.

    Do you have any idea of how hard it is to register to vote at consulate? Do you know it was impossible to do change addresses for these elections?

    On a parenthetical note, and even though I view this is a civics issue, but since you like to use economic models, have you considered the marginal utility cost of one incremental vote in an environment where voter turn-out is likely to be high and polls indicate a close election? Dunno man, I never took economics at Reed but I would bet a single vote might count for a lot.

    Go vote guys! I admire and respect the way you value democracy. Your vote is priceless.

    • Let’s follow this one through to its reductio ad absurdum.

      Let’s say tomorrow night, Tibi in her best new hairdo announces Maduro won by 12,000 votes.

      Let’s further say that on Monday, somebody leaks an email from Henri Falcón saying they had a list with 565,000 well identified opposition voters in low income communities, but that they ran out of money and could only organize a mobilization drive for 390,000 of them, and estimate that out of the remaining 175,000, just 92,000 turned out.

      Are you seriously going to tell me in this scenario you think those guys did the right thing by hogging the resources the campaign needed to drive to New Orleans instead of mobilizing the votes they needed to win?

      That’s a really funky version of civics they taught you, man…

      • That’s a really funky version of civics they taught you, man…

        YOU are going to give us a lesson on civics, after about 10 years of not bothering to make the effort to vote or sign?

        What a phony!!

      • Ademas que si se ganó por 7,000 votos de los mayameros pero igual la tibi va a decir que perdieron por 12,000, ahi esta el detalle… 🙁

      • //BEGIN OF RANT

        If somebody pay you to vote, or if you feel that you need someone to drive you to the electoral post, or if someone needs to be convinced that his vote matters, I’m sorry but that person has no sense of civic duty. The only exception is handicapped people, elder people and people in medical coma, the rest of us has no excuse to honor our civic duties. Still you can see elder people and handicapped people going to the electoral post.

        Toro, it is truth that you haven’t voted in ten years? approximately the same time that this blog is being around? Is hard to say that between posts you don’t have time to honor your civic duty. You know I respect you guys, but I think you should not be lecturing anybody in civics duty, let alone trashing the Venezuelan People that lives in Miami for doing the right thing. If they want to brag about it, well let them!! I honestly I don’t see any problems there. The average chavista couldn’t care anymore than me.

        I think if you’d asked the Mayamero money, so people in Venezuela can vote, I’m pretty much sure that the MUD would have been receiving big checks from Miami. I have no doubt about it.

        In regard to your reductio ad absurdum challenge, well frankly I would have loved that you guys at least had showed some initiative in this regard. I personally I didn’t see any big announcement from you nor the MUD in Venezuela about CSB needing money from us in order to mobilize the votes back in our homeland. Instead we are left with our conscience and doing what is best for our country.

        Finally, I think that rather than trashing anyone that has a better sense of civil duties than you, you should be creating initiatives that would have increase the turnout for the cause of your choice. Be the example.

        //END OF RANT

  11. Parece que los cronistas de este blog (en particular Quico y Juan Cristóbal), inteligentes, formados y muchas veces acertados en sus análisis, optaron por ocuparse de temas intrascendentes (la queja contra la jefa de prensa de Capriles), o hacer ejercicios más o menos inútiles de descarga contra votantes en el exterior (los que se desplazan de Miami a New Orleans). Uno viene por aquí a leer algún punto de vista esclarecedor, pero la verdad que decepciona toparse con estas “malcriadeces” con ínfulas de prosa seria. Ni que Ibsen Martínez lo diga, acepto que esta pieza tenga ningún valor, ni ahora, ni después, ni más tarde. A unas cuantas horas de las elecciones yo esperaría algo más sustancioso de Quico. Pero parece que el “mood” no da para eso. Hay en este texto (como en aquél de Juan Cristóbal) un mal humor impregnado de derrotismo, de pesimismo sobre lo que viene en Venezuela. También uno siente la arrogancia del que se la está comiendo. Y además, no podía faltar, esa superioridad de los economistas y de los que argumentan con la economía, como si se tratara de la verdad última y suprema. Esperemos que vengan textos mejores.

  12. The tone of the post will hurt most people, but the core question has a lot of sense: Would it be best for a MIA voter to spend that much money to move himself to MSY? or to send it to Venezuela to mobilize a lot more of people?

    The thing is that I’m afraid that sending foreign money to Venezuela is not that easy with the exchange controls and the campaign audit process. Would you cast a light on this instead of belittling these people?

    • Sure it is. 99% of Venezuelans in Miami have a relative back home who will gladly deposit Bs.2,500 or 3,000 in a Capriles campaign account in return for $150 cash the next time they meet.

      • I thought you couldn’t outdo yourself, but somehow, you’ve done it.

        Then again, I suppose in your travels you don’t come across expats who left out of necessity and whose families can’t actually afford to give up even 2500 bolivars sight unseen.

  13. la electora de jose felix ribas zona 4 que se toma una foto con su blackberry del meñique morado tambien esta “gratificando su ego” al salir de votar… y su voto es una decision individual… lo mismo se puede decir de los 5 carajos que viajan (apretados) de miami con un carro prestado… o en autobus fleteado… y si cada uno de esos votantes se las quiere echar de que votó, que?

    insisto, es un poco arriesgado e irresponsable (cuando no sin fundamento) insinuar que todos ellos supeditan el bien comun por el bien individual por peos de ego…

    • Actually, your second paragraph is right. Probably the problem is in the headline. My annoyance is really more with the breathless tone of exultation and praise these guys receive than with their gesture.

      Maybe I need a different headline…

      • maybe you need to take a break and take in the sights in juba a little bit more… we all say things we regret… and i think you have more than a headline to backtrack on…

      • Your headline sucks bad. Narcissism? Gimme a break. BTW, in the civics I was taught, voting is a duty as well as a right for every Venezuelan. Check your favorite “Educacion Civica” book from bachillerato or the most recent Venezuelan constitutions.

        Yea, and I do applaud what these people are doing. They are showing the civic consciousness we desperately need in our country. They do not deserve your spite.

        Where is Emiliana when we need her? She has become the voice of reason in this blog. Oh wait, I remember. You guys were of the opinion she could not blog her opinions (they way you guys do) because she is working in the Capriles campaign.

        For the love of God, please get CC back on track!

          • Don’t talk for her, Quico.

            Lo que te hace falta es una dósis de respeto hacia los demás que ejercen su deber de voto, cosa que no has hecho tú, en largo tiempo, y en estas elecciones, salvo tu intento el 7O. Qué bolas tan chiquitas y mediocres. Y sí escóndate detrás de las *matemáticas*.

          • In truth, anyone is free to use their money in the way they feel they would get the best return for themselves, be it in Miami, Europe or Africa. My brother lives in Dubai and I lent him part of the money to come back and vote. I have also given money ( don’t have that much unfortunately) and worked hard to elect Capriles without seeking any recognition because I was raised on principles.I find this post at best misguided and at worst hypocritical and yes, I believe that if you don’t vote you give up your right to change the country for the better and become part of the problem. I am proud of all Venezuelans that still give a damn to make a sacrifice, as most of those in Miami are not wealthy.
            I hate to say it but you are beginning to sound a lot more as the type of people I would not vote for in an election

          • Fine Juan Cristóbal. We’ll use Africa as an excuse. But it doesn’t let Quico off the hook, where contributing monies to the CSB is concerned. That is, for them to attend to the more impoverished sectors that he cries about, for the lack of CSB funds.

            You’d think Quico would be the first to contribute. Nope. He can’t put money where his mouth is. Nor does he dare answer several questions, not just from me, on whether he has contributed the proceeds of the book the two of you are now flogging.

            He disses the Mayameros for the *opportunity cost* involved in exercising their civic right to vote. That’s a game anyone of us can play. Take for instance, the *opportunity cost* in a family trip to Japan. Imagine how many poor could have been served by those funds.

            D’you see? And on the subject of it take two to tango… if you and Quico can ply some of your recent unethical, badly-timed, and insulting wares to an audience that you need to stir up for blog hits, that audience is in its perfect right to point out issues that have an odour to them.

            Finally, and this may hurt, with posts like Quico’s unethical revelation of names behind the audio tracks of subjects, without informing them, followed by your similar tear-a-strip-off Ana María F., and now this post of Quico’s dissing a group of voters, can you understand why, even if Ana María were organized in the available time frame, she would be wise to steer clear of CC. That is, regardless of CC’s freebie offer as a gateway to C and D-level journos from abroad?

            Btw, are you voting tomorrow?

          • BTW, I take the accusation that I’m unethical very personally. You’ve crossed a line there. My post was very clear – you may disagree with it, and I can take the criticism. But your claim that it makes me unethical is insulting.

          • No Juan, I have not crossed the line. You did, in tearing a strip off Ana María Fernandez and posting her image, simply out of spite, because she did not acquiesce to your vision. And you know it. If you don’t see my point, I suggest you re-read the comments on that post of yours. Frankly, I was horrified you had done that, moreover, on the heels of Quico’s pataleta, both of you acting like brats.

            I still love ya. But as I said before, two can play the blog game, when comments are allowed, and when readers detect the horse manure in a particular post. Sorry.

  14. Vivo en NY y viajare 6 horas a mi centro de votacion, en San Francisco.

    Van a contar mi voto? Capaz no. Pude haber donado los $400 que me costo el pasaje a la campaña en Venezuela? Si.

    El punto no es cuanto cuesta el voto (que me estoy pagando yo con mi sueldo, nadie me lo regala) ni que si un voto vale mas que otro. Se trata de ser CIUDADANO y cumplir con un deber muy personal. Asi como yo no me pongo aqui a decir que mi voto le va a ganar la presidencia a Capriles, por favor no le restes importancia a mi esfuerzo por cumplir con el deber civico que mi conciencia me dicta. O hazlo, la verdad yo no voy a votar para que me celebren.

    • Ese es el punto exactamente: El deber civico del que Quico se burla con tanto gusto. El ejemplo que quiero dar a mis hijos no es “dale reales al partido, que ellos se encargan de todo”, sino “a votar, cueste lo que cueste, porque solo si todos expresamos nuestra voluntad politica, hay democracia”.

  15. Quico reducir esto a una mera cuestión matemática es verdaderamente triste, más aun, afirmar de forma categórica que quienes se van de Miami a New Orleans lo hacen por ego, narcicismo y autogratificación es maniqueo, es una razonamiento absolutamente binario, incluso si el dinero que se están gastando pudiera ser mejor usado por el CSB en Venezuela. Porque entonces si esas personas además de ir a votar a NOLA además enviaran esos 150 dólares, ¿entonces si estaría bien? ¿O deberían haber enviando entonces 300 e igualmente quedarse sin ir a votar?

    La verdad es que el razonamiento me parece flojo, incluso si debajo de él subyacen razones valederas, la conclusión es superficial.

  16. Este es el tipo de razonamiento que hacen quienes critican a la gente que rescata animales porque no dedica esa energía a rescatar niños de la calle, o a cualquiera que se dedica a una causa porque descuida otra. En todos los casos, la pregunta verdaderamente pertinente es qué hace el que critica por la causa que defiende.
    Saludos cordiales.

  17. It could’ve just been put so very differently, it is the tone, the tone is what I so much dislike.
    You can be absolutely right, but it came out so awful, it’s even painful to read.

  18. Emiliana…EMIlLIANA!!! Please come back. It is JC and FT who sould have taken a break during the campaign. Verdaderamente….

  19. Wow, worst post ever, you’re asking people to renounce to their rights just because you think it’s narcissist to fight for them “because they’re wasting money”….. I guess because I don’t live in Venezuela I shouldn’t vote tomorrow, that won’t make a difference…. Sad affirmation…

    • I better not tell Quico my wife and I just spent $30 going to a movie and grabbing some pizza on the way home. That’s money I could have given to CSB! Or better yet, I could have bought his book!

    • If you want to “defend your rights” you need to be focused on the goal: electing the guy likely to stick up for them. It’s perfectly clear what the more effective way of making that happen is.

      • Quico, everyone’s rights end where other people’s rights begin. It doesn’t matter the situation we can’t pretend that these people renounce to their rights, we have to respect it, you can try to convince them if you wish but please don’t come now to throw stones at them for using their money and their time to exercise their rights. That’s simply borderline extremist.

  20. I can’t believe I am about to defend the mayameros, but this is still too typical of excel based economics, Francisco when are you going to learn about externalities and consequences? if these 7000 people were braving the rain, sleet and snow for 10 days on foot you bet your ass it would be more inspiriational to the people that cannot get to the polls because they did not want to carpool?

    That said you are correct that the avg Venezuelan will never identify with them flying on ” Democracy, Justice, Union, Liberty and Security” it would probably make them cringe if not puke.


    Unbelievable that Fox News has a more balanced piece than what I am reading today from the AP and Washington Diehl, err Post.

  21. My wife flew back for the last election and certainly the amount that do spend a lot more in total than those who will bus over so I’m not sure why you are fixated on those going to NO. I can tell you for sure my wife did not do it for ego. She did it in order to ‘ejercicio su derecho de votar’ as you Venezuelans like to say.

    I’m not going to hand over $1400 to anyone in Venezuela (including family members) without an extremely good reason and a thorough understanding of how the money would be used. I did spend $1400 so my wife could do her part to evict Chavez. As you know, abstention is kind of a problem.

    She has found it virtually impossible to get her voting center changed. It is 6 hours round trip to get to the nearest consulate. She went a while without a passport for the same reason. The consulates we have dealt with are the definition of incompetence.

    Really, that post was stupid. I just finished my taxes and owe a ton of money and I don’t feel like being subtle.

    • After seeing the comments I guess that maybe it isnthe timing of the post that is bad… Given that everyone has already made up their minds regarding what to do and some feel attacked, had it come earlier, maybe some would have changed their minds (btw me siento rarísimo escribie so sobre Venezuela en inglés y entre venezolanos)…

  22. I’ll try to keep it short: They are making an example. These guys spending all that money and time on a very clean cause of “civic duty” will weigh heavy on the conciousness of those that have it easier.

    Sure, this money could be usefull for the campaign but they don’t feel like donating it there for whatever reason (including that it is not clear how that money will be spent) but hey, if that’s what floats their boat, this ain’t no communism where the resources are to be spent only in the greater good of the cause.

  23. Individuals dont always have a clear idea of the broad view implications of their natural gut decisions , The gut decision of course is ‘Im not going to let those bastards deprive me of the right to exercise my vote’ , they will not automatically think that the dollars spent on the N Orleans trip if given to the Capriles campaign fund might translate into more than one additional vote in Venezuela ( if they translate into only one additional vote then its not worth it) . If the Capriles campaign had made them this point and actively solicited such funds maybe lots of people would have forfeited the gut pleasure of taking the N Orlean trip to vote , An ordinary individual living in Miami might not think that the matter was that important or that the Campaign wanted to build up (in 3 weeks) a movilization infrastructure to bring the voters in . A big point with the opposition has been that its supporters act free from any outside inducement , on their own free will , regardless of ordinary outside obstacles , moved by their own initiative . The massive systematic busing and list taking and free beer is for the regime herd of coerced and lazy chavista followers not for true Oppo die hards. Miami die hards specially who go to such lenghts to cast their votes would find it hard to understand that there are many oppo supporters in Venezuela who will not go and vote if not given a prior phone call and a free ride to the voting poll . Once again the demands of ‘realpolitik’ meet human nature and fail to ellicit a satisfactory response. FT’s complaint is of course correct on broad pragmatic terms but not very wise to the ways of ordinary people .

    • Well, yes, I can agree with all of that. The thing is, the higher the stakes are, the less morally admissible it seems to me to continue to satisfy the gut at the expense of the brain.

      I’m used to losing these battles, though, of course. 14 years’ll do that to you…

      • You should have thought and written about this ISSUE before today… You and JC boast of having “connections” with the CSB… These afterthoughts are just useless… and damaging to your own “career” as a political analyst…

      • Oh, poor poor Mr. Toro! He has seen so many battles and many defeats!
        Do you need a violin as soundtrack for playing the victim?
        Stop using deodorant for the next few days and you’ll have all the “violin” you need!
        No, wait: this piece is stinky enough!

  24. ay chamo quico te metiste con los mayameros….es casi como meterse con un chavista argentino (igual de obtuso). no te preocupes en discutir que las matematicas ni la logica aplican a los votos de FL.

  25. I see your point, Quico. I personally think is an interesting take on the issue. The problem is in the accusation. Maybe a lot of those guys doing the trip, just like me, understand the greater spillovers of giving the money to finance the mobilization effort back home once you present it, but had not thought about it.

  26. Well, i mostly agree with Francisco on this post, save for the fact that i think he’s not taking into account the collective action issue; it’s way easier to convince 7000+ people to spend 150$ each on THEIR OWN expenses to vote, than to gave the cash away to the MUD, especially taking into account (unconfirmed opinion) that most of the oppo in Miami is somewhat critical of the Capriles campaign.

    So, i guess 7k more votes won’t hurt the cause, and the alternative (donating funds to gain more votes home) is by no means a sure thing.

    • Alternatively, there are probably 40,000 Venezuelans in South Florida who could have donated, say, $80 or $100 or $120 to the campaign, but couldn’t afford $150 to go there. The campaign just left that money on the table.

  27. The other point – and I really gotta get to bed soon, it’s late here – is that arguably EVERY vote is an ego-gratification exercise. The chances of a single vote swinging an election are infinitesimal, the utility a voter receives must be related to something other than his vote’s weight in deciding the outcome. There’s a big political science literature on this.

    But obviously my text didn’t reflect it. Probably it should have: the mayameros in New Orleans aren’t unique in voting to gratify their egos, they’re unique in devoting a bizarrely disproportionate amount of resources to do so.

    • WOW!! Compounding the error–“EVERY vote is an ego-gratification exercise.” “The chances of a single vote swinging an election are infinitessimal” You’re right, Quico,– too Hell with democracy (unbelievable), and forget about each vote becoming a part of a significant mass..

  28. I agree with your point and applaud you for opening yourself up to this criticism. BUT, I don’t think it’s about narcissism. It’s a spectacle, just like the entire Venezuelan political sphere. Vote for me and I’ll give you a house with brand new Chinese appliances! Vote for ME and I’ll raise your salary by 30% immediately! El pajarito me dijo! Mi flaquito y su gorrito! These pobrecitos trekking to New Orleans are just adding to the spectacle and feeling super CIVIC about it. If someone in the Capriles campaign told them that perhaps their money would be better spent on a donation to the MUD, and explained the math to them, and told them that donating would be a better use of civic energy, I’m sure they would have complied, and maybe even STILL gone to vote. Or if you had written this same article a month ago. My trouble with Capriles is that he plays this spectacle game. We can debate whether he actually wants to or is just doing it to get votes, but he does. And things like this are the result.

    • I totally agree with you, maybe if the campaign had done their work many people would have donated (including myself) but hey didn’t as far as I know, so this article just looks like a rant against a group of venezuelan’s rights.

    • For some reason, it’s an outrage to suggest it’s a waste of resources to spend hundreds of dollars on one vote. But it’s not an outrage that thousands of poor people in Venezuela who want to vote for Capriles can’t and won’t because the campaign isn’t set up to mobilize them. #MiddleClassBlinders

      • Ya don’t get it, Quico. Again. Because in your preening exercise, you don’t want to see the other side of yourself. The outrage is towards the arrogance and dishonesty of the writer, who, save for 7O hasn’t voted or signed for years, hasn’t exercised his civic duty, but feels ever-so-superior in lashing at those who choose to spend their money the way they see fit.

        Can it be any clearer? Contribute the proceeds from the sale of your book, as a high-minded example, and then you have the right to lash out at those who don’t contribute financially to the Comando Simón Bolívar.

      • Based on your argument I guess you will find fair that we ask you to donate all the proceedings from the book to the campaign instead of wasting it in this blog that won’t make a difference in the election, right?

      • Your post makes the following assumptions:

        -there are no barriers to campaign donations from outside Venezuela
        -money translates directly into votes (if this is true, the richest team always wins…which is historically not the case, even in Venezuela)
        -the campaign within Venezuela has perfect efficiency in the allocation of its resources
        -there is no value in what is also an act of protest and resistance
        -there is no value to the disproportionate publicity that voters abroad bring to the cause of democracy in Venezuela in exercising their right outside the country
        -it is possible to monetize the moral value to the individual of voting ( you call it egoism, some would call it the expression of a basic human right)
        -people are making these long journeys just to vote ( that it is not, for example, an expression of international solidarity with their home, that it is not an educational opportunity to their families on the value of democracy, that it is not mucho mas fun than a trip to Disney)
        -that mobilizing voters in Venezuela, particularly poor voters, is a question of money. (That would in fact be, more of an assumption from a middle class or privileged perspective)

        Nobody I know working on the Capriles campaign has ever said to me, ‘we lost Barinas because of lack of fundraising’. They do say, we’ve got to talk to people….we need to knock on doors…

        • This:

          “money translates directly into votes (if this is true, the richest team always wins…which is historically not the case, even in Venezuela)”

          “if this is true, the richest team always wins”

          I couldn’t agree more. Why even vote? They DO HAVE more money than we do! They have FONDEN. Period.

          • Chavez won, in the first place, without the big money (granted, he had corporate sponsors like Banco Santander, but not like his opponents). Why is it any different today?

        • These are all great points, I think you articulated the arguments against this post better than anyone. In particular I don’t think you can understate the disproportionate publicity and symbolism

          • Yes, and you can not underestimate the value of that political engagement out-of-country if shit goes sideways tomorrow.

            Not to be apocalyptic, because I think Capriles will win convincingly, and people will accept it, but the fact that extranjero venezolanos are on the sidelines right now, is something of a modest insurance policy. The world is watching.

  29. Well they could donate that amount of money AND vote. Seems like the best possible solution here.

    As a side note for everyone reading this, did any of you catch J.J Rendon at Bayly? If so that MAYBE warrants some discussion. Agree?

    • Not under excel economics, if they donate 10000 and use 150 to vote they are still wasting 150 and should have donated 10150.

    Los venezolanos en Australia fueron los primeros en ejercer el derecho al voto para las elecciones presidenciales de este 14 de abril. En Canberra son cerca de las 7:00am de domingo.

    Sergio Diago, elector venezolano, señaló que alrededor de 20 personas ya están en cola para sufragar. “Aquí estamos con bastante entusiasmo, la primera votante es Rina Rivas”, dijo.

    La venezolana comentó que para ella “es un honor ser la primera en votar en el mundo”. Manifestó que desea ser un ejemplo para motivar a quienes se encuentran en su patria para salir a votar. “Papi, por favor, sal a votar. Acuérdate de mí”, fue el mensaje de Rina Rivas para su padre, quien se encuentra en Guanare, estado Portuguesa.

    Diago, resaltó que realizaron un esfuerzo conjunto para poder trasladarse desde varias ciudades de Australia hasta Canberra. Algunos invirtieron 300 dólares y recorrieron hasta 3 mil 900 kilómetros para cumplir con el país. En Canberra hay un único centro de votación en el que 992 venezolanos están inscritos para sufragar.

    • “Algunos invirtieron 300 dólares y recorrieron hasta 3 mil 900 kilómetros para cumplir con el país. En Canberra hay un único centro de votación en el que 992 venezolanos están inscritos para sufragar.”

      Es una actitud totalmente irresponsable…

      • Mucha gente diria que es irresponsable de tu parte opinar sobre el país en el cual no vives desde hace años…. Yo no estaría de acuerdo con eso, pero al parecer tú sí….

          • Correcto, y opinar sobre el mismo es tu derecho, así como hacer lo que te parezca correcto para votar porque es el derecho de esa gente. Ninguna de las anteriores es una irresponsabilidad en mi opinión, contrario a lo que afirma Quico arriba…

      • Prefiero vivir en una sociedad donde los valores y el compromiso civico significan mas que un cheque al comando de campaña. Supongo que tu punto es que por culpa de estos votantes no tendremos un gobierno que nos ofrezca esa sociedad, pero a mi parecer tu mentalidad es la raiz del problema.

      • La verdad, veo que te cuesta entender que pegarse ese incómodo camión de 32 h es simbólicamente no dejarse arrodillar por el régimen. It’s a slap on the chávista regime’s face who closed their consulate. Their right to vote wherever is undisputed. They and all The rest around the planet vote for solidarity with their country and their families back home. Nobody can accuse these expats of indifference… Nada que ver con el tema ego, vanidad o arrogancia. What dis younhave for lunch today! Es tu opinión, y tienes tanto derecho como cualquiera. But… Again annals of bad timing and worst taste.

  31. Right … they should each buy 5 of your books … grow up.

    >>> …. where mobilization is run on a desperate shoestring …

  32. I wonder what Miguel have to say about this post. He just spent “the most expensive ticket” to go to Venezuela to vote.
    Anyway, when I read the post I frowned. I felt like I should not eat my food because I should send it to Africa where they can feed more people with less.
    What the heck…..

  33. Nobody proposed this Quico. Remember tis ilegal for foreign foundations to donate money to political parties in Venezuela. I did not go this time, last year I spent considerably more than 1000 bucks on the trip between my wife and I. I don’t feel good about not having gone but I didn’t want to spend that kind of money again nor take a 40 hour bus trip back and forth, sorry.

  34. Your logic assumes that the only reason that those Venezuelans make the trip is to vote. I think many also enjoy the trip itself and the opportunity to gather with like-minded Venezuelans. Many people do not have the opportunity to travel to Venezuela. The opportunity cost is more likely to be that they forgo a trip to Disney rather than that they would otherwise have donated towards a political campaign.

    If Capriles doesn’t win (as many people seem to find likely) the return on investment of your campaign donation is 0 – you don’t even get a trip.

    I don’t see the campaign funding issue as being related to this – everyone can donate, not just 8,000 people in the US. If the election is lost because of too little funds that’s a problem in itself. If the campaign would reach out for donations from foreign-based Venezuelans I’m sure they would receive them.

    It seems your point is that these people are getting too much praise. That can be a valid point, but I don’t think that the people making the trip all consider themselves to be heroes. So your criticism should perhaps be directed towards the people doing the praising rather than the people making the trip.

    By the way, I’m not Venezuelan and I don’t live in the US but I do like reading your blog very much.

  35. You sound like a rightwing chavista here. Incredibly arrogant Quico. I just got home from dropping my mom off at the bus so she can make the 32 hour round trip and vote for Capriles again… I assure you shes not a wealthy oligarchic expat and she didnt do it for her ego. She did it for her country. Dont criticize from your comfortable bed those making a huge effort to save our country. Ive been reading this blog for years so im just gonna ignore this post and Juan’s. I hope this doesnt become a trend. If you cant help get Capriles elected then at least dont criticize those who do

  36. The Miami-to-New Orleans trek might not make sense in purely economic terms, but it allows for political discussions among Venezuelans and personal solidarity in a way that sending a cheque to Capriles doesn’t. Refusing to knuckle under to the Chavista vote-stealing attempt makes sense as a public gesture, too. “Okay, we won’t vote but we will send money instead” doesn’t have the same ring of defiance, as “Damn the cost, I have the right to vote, and no one is taking it away!”

  37. I get your point, but I have a question, Did the MUD organize funding drives directed to the expats world wide? If it did, I did not hear about it. If a system that allowed for direct donations was not in place you cannot blame the guys who are spending their money to at least secure their vote is counted, Had the MUD started a campaign back in October “otro gallo cantaría”…

  38. I think your mind set is way off. If this point was important why not publish the post 3 weeks ago and help people donate. For you to publish this on Saturday night is nothing more that an ego trip. You remind me of democrats in the USA it all about how they are smarter than the rest of us, how they can use my money in a better way. I am not in Miami but they should do as they wish.

  39. Democracy is at its essence individual choice, which is a right, as is the way in which one chooses to vote. No Big Brother here to decide how you spend your hard-earned pfennigs. An 863mi/1389km. drive EACH WAY is not much fun, even if you’re on a comfortable bus (I’ve driven it many times). Hats off to the PATRIOTS of Miami who make this trip!!

  40. Yeah, because surely voting for the man that has proven to be a total failure of a president that can’t even stand up without hiding behind Chavez’s figure is a much better option! More than voting for the worst candidate is even worse not voting at all. And simplistic logic that “if he can’t do X thing why vote for him” won’t get you anywhere, I prefer a president that sometimes fails here and there but at least tries, than one who ony cares about scaring people with acient curses and blame everyone else for all of Venezuela’s problems. You and your cynisim are the ones who should grow up.

  41. Imágenes: el Big Ben, El Coliseo romano, el teatro de la Opera en Sydney, la Estatua de la Libertad, el tren bala en Japón, la torre Eiffel, Chichen Itzá, la sirena en Copenhagen, la puerta de Brandenburgo, las pirámides en Egipto, Machu Pichu, el cristo en Corcovado… un locutor en off dice “No necesitamos tu voto, necesitamos los reales. Evítate el peligro y los posibles inconvenientes del traslado al consulado venezolano mas cercano a tu domicilio y deposita el equivalente de los gastos de tu grupo familiar en nuestra cuenta PayPal”

    La pueden musicalizar con la cancioncita de la cuña que está rodando el CNE “Soooy…”

  42. One way to look at the issues is through the lens of free markets. Let’s consider two scnerarios.
    First, think of it as an individual decision. A rich guy faces the option of footing the million dollar bill for the 7,000 mayameros to go on their tropical pilgrimage to holly New Orleans, watch some tits on Bourbon Street and vote for Capriles, or the option of sending the million bucks to Comando Simon Bolivar to get a better bang for the bucks. In that case, I agree with Francisco: it is money better spent in Venezuela buying cachitos, café, transportation and phone calls. But such would not be a case of free market preferences; instead it would be a case of planned economy. The plan, in this case, is made by the rich guy.
    Second, consider what actually happen. Thousands of people, each deciding on his or her own weather to go to New Orleans to watch tits, drink bourbon and vote for Capriles, or to send the money to who-knows-who to get a better ROI. But wait a minute, we are leaving out a bunch of things, some practical and some ideological.
    On the practical side, who organized the drive to collect $150 from each potential traveler? Was there a prospectus? How would the money be audited? How is the risk of a swindler collecting money under false pretense controlled? And where do you leave the tits and the bourbon. After all, there is fun in New Orleans.
    On the ideological side, we (at least I) want Capriles to win because we are tired of people using the altar of the common good to sacrifice individual decision making. We are tired of powerful people using intimidation to force our hand. Yes, it is true, in terms of political returns the ROI is better if the money is spent in Venezuela, but in terms of free choice nothing beats people doing with their money what pleases them most.

    • I was going to post something very similar myself. The travelling to faraway voting centres should be viewed as an act of consumption, and it is rather obviously true that it does not maximize votes. I think the post would have been more effective had it criticized the donation of resources to get out the vote efforts overseas, which is a truly absurd waste of resources as you illustrate.

  43. Reading from a bus full of hopeful connationals on our way to New Orleans. It’s hot here because the bus Hermandad Venezana ONG could afford to subsidize is a “rancho rodante”. Two reporters and one camera man from The Sun Sentinel ans channel 7 are on board. They’ve been interviewing us all the way and most of us seem to be here for the same reason. We as individuals could just look the other way and stay comfortably at home. We dont live im Venezuela and probably are not returning anytime soo, if ever. But we do it to make a statement. And we do it for the youth back in our homeland. We can’t be indifferent seeing the kids from operacion soberania throw themselves in a hunger strike demanding so basic rights in the 21st century when they should be focused on doing well at a top quality university to prepare themselves to compete in the complex world we live in. So, I don’t know how much ideals and dreams and making a statement to the world are worth in pure monetary terms, Quico. But I know one thing. You blew it

    • “We as individuals could just look the other way and stay comfortably at home.” That’s perfectly fine, and what you do with your money to perform what you see as your duty is entirely up to you. The tale does lose a lot of its moral poignancy when you you mention the bus was funded by an NGO. If we are subsidizing the get out the vote effort of others, we should do it on the basis of logic not emotion.

  44. I can only see 2 logical possibilities as reasons for this post, other than Syd’s and other commenters’ various reasons posted earlier: 1) Post-7O Traumatic Stress Syndrome (remember the photo post-election of Quico with his head in his hands-no, Syd, not the one of the missing hand with him standing next to GEHA?); 2) Being bitten by the dreaded Sudanese Tstse Fly: (he said he was feeling sleepy, remember?)-first, the sleeping sickness, and then the elephantiasis (let’s hope it doesn’t affect his head, but, come to think of it….).

    • the photo post-election of Quico with his head in his hands

      yeah, qué teaaatro. I remember it well, thinking, good god, it’s a bit much. Moreover, when it took me YEARS of chiding Quico for not making an effort to reapply for his stolen cédula, in order to exercise his civic duty. That is, in a political scenario that he wrote about so passionately. #phony. Finally, with the credentials in hand, Quico exercised that civic duty for the first time in Jeeesh, must have been near 10 years, on 7O. What histrionics followed! Only to be outdone by this petulant post, ill thought out and expressed, with a lambasting title to boot (which oddly lifted elements of my earlier #TheUnbearableIrresponsibilityOfInfatuation).


      Now comes the back-entrance explanation, so wanting prior to CACR’s lead. Because as we all know, Quico has no ability to massage verbiage. A verbal orphan, pues.


  45. Por supuesto el punto de haber donado dinero para mobilizacion es importante. Sin embargo , en un evento electoral sui generis s, y aunque de acuerdo con la matemática no estoy de acuerdo con lo “del costo “del voto. Para muchos es un valor, y de verdad vamos a ver que tu estes en la clase F y te digan bueno ven te mobilizo te pago 150 $ ( no necesariamente) y abajo estan los malandros del barrio y todos estan con la pistola…ok entonces ese voto cuesta 150$? Tampoco, porque la vida no tiene valor ( costo de oportunidad) entonces cual es el costo de oportunidad para cada persona que viaje por 75 dolares o por 400? cuanto “vale”( no hablo de costo) su voto…
    Ahora sí la MUD no es perfecta…Y también conozco gente que estan en Miami o Atlanta y no pueden ir a votar porque no les alcanza, no todo el mundo es rico y millonario, o se puede dar el luo de gastar un mes de comida para 4 personas…

    • If they don’t have the money to pay their way to the consulate, other people shouldn’t pay it for them when the money could be better spent elsewhere. Period.

  46. Suckiest. Post. Ever.

    “I won’t loaf around and read ‘Blogging the Revolution’ on my Kindle because the opportunity cost of that versus thinking about work is lousy. I won’t buy that Threadless t-shirt because, uhm, those 20 bucks are better off in a 529 plan for my kids. I won’t master the perinola because the opportunity cost of that vs piedra-papel-o-tijera plain old sucks…” or whatever.

    Dude. Seriously? Opportunity cost to the mayamero vote?

  47. Although not perhaps in the same terms, I agree with the underlying idea of your post. Look at this data from the CNE: http://www.cne.gob.ve/resultado_presidencial_2012/pp/12/reg_010119032.html 8 persons in the Hipodromo, a shelter for damnificados, voted for Capriles. This IS an enormous act of civic duty and courage, voting against the threats of losing your housing and the opportunities of a better life. Bur whenever you turned on Globovisión or Facebook, you only saw the self-congratulatory pictures of people voting in New Orleans and elsewhere as a sign of courage, no recognition of what the many voters of Capriles from classes D, C, E and D had to go through to vote, how brave and independent they were. As witnesses in western Caracas who have to lye in the floor when the motorizados come firing their guns to scare them.Perhaps many of them wont do it again after seeing that the A, B, C classes care so little about them. I don’t have a problem with people using their money to vote, but the smugness of the whole voting abroad moment is really hard to take.

  48. As an economist I can tell you this:
    Even though some people have proved that a single vote does not make a difference, I still thin voting is necessary is a right and a duty.
    Maybe is not economically perfect the fact that the mayameros are spending that amount of money on their ego filling trip. But if we don’t have our principles, what do we have left?
    We criticize the government, for being a bunch of ignorant malandros…
    We must be better, we must held up high those things in which believe

    An BTW your logic may be perfect, but your timing and your style is just plain wrong

  49. Francisco, el artículo es impecable en su lógica, pero pésimo en oportunidad. Este artículo hubiese sido perfecto hace un mes. Muchos lo habríamos recalcado y compartido el aporte, y tal vez convencido a la gente que ya, Hoy, estuvo montada en aviones y comprado pasajes. Lástima que no hayas podido ayudar en eso. ¡Saludos!

  50. When I left Venezuela, I made the conscious decision not to register abroad and maintain my registration in Caracas to insure that I would come back for elections. To me, it is a small personal luxury to come back and feel and live each election in person, even if I never imagined how much this ticket in particular would cost me. To me it is duty, living history, enjoying history and trying to understand things by being on the ground.

    Being here this weekend will be a blast, I will comply with my civic duty, enjoy it, have a roller coaster emotional ride no matter what happens and, hopefully, understand Venezuela better, even if it is only a tiny bit.

    People as individuals are usually very inefficient on how to optimize their resources, but at the same time our political campaigns do not communicate well the needs of the campaign. Opposition mobilizations efforts have typically been disjoint and local and people view them as more individual efforts, bring your car, gas and wait for orders more than a financial problem. Sometimes, the campaigns don’t even know what they need, ask Juan 🙂

    • In decision studies, the formal model proposed by Von Neuman and Morgestern in their masterpiece “Theory of Games and Economic Behavior” was Expected Utility (EU). It failed to describe actual decisions because it assumed that the utility of playing a game was zero. A solution was proposed by Kahneman and Tversky in their famous article on prospect theory, a pretty decent descriptive model of actual decisions.
      It turns out that the decision maker is not an algorithm but a human being that uses heuristics of reasoning, many seriously flawed, to make decisions.
      Francisco uses a sort of EU model in his post, and according to that model it is true that going to New Orleans is an inferior decision than sending the money to Venezuela.
      Miguel uses a sort of behavioral economic model, one that recognizes that there is fun in playing the game, and such fun has a high subjective utility value.
      In my case, the article made me examine my decision to go to Chicago and I had to accept that it was not a good one. I cancelled my trip and sent what I would have spent in the trip, to a coordinator of the Vote for Capriles drive.
      Francisco post has been rejected by people who defend their heuristics of judgment, perhaps without knowing that is what they are doing. In my case, since I know those heuristics are flawed, I sided with Francisco and cancelled the trip.

  51. I just think that receiving those eventual million bucks – my figures are different – is impossible. The “puppy of the Empire” argument is going to be more prejudicial for Capriles than the eventual benefit of receiving that money. I think there are bigger interests – oil companies – that could have given that money, but it can’t be done, specially with this government. I appreciate your concern for the poorest people who are going to vote for HCR, but from my point of view, the money you consider must be there to help them is impossible to get neither from Miami or any other part of the world. And about “finding a way” I wouldn’t risk trying to get that money and then, if discovered, admit to ‘chavistas’ that I received it from outside.

    About the “smugness” of going to New Orleans, if the money CAN NOT be used to help Capriles in Venezuela, I consider it well invested. The government is kicking the ass of the greater number of Venezuelans outside when deciding no to offer a different alternative than New Orleans. I really consider that is a way to rebel, to say “I am not doing what you want me to do, I am exercising my right to vote, even that far away.” And the 14 hours and the risk of such a long trip is no joke.

    As you see, I respect your point of view, but for me the argument fails in its core – by the way, the him at the first sentence must be substituted by it – so I just find the post a ‘spoiler’ to something that is done, already, and that is a very representative event for those Venezuelans who, in many cases had to leave and are going to do this to show the attachment they still have to the country. Corny? Yes. Useful? Maybe not. Is their right to do so ( and be respected for it)? Definitely, YES.

    • Martha, I just cancelled my trip to Chicago. Instead of a trip to the Windy City, I sent $500 to a person who leads a mobilization effort to secure votes for Capriles. Not a legal (by Venezuelan government standards) transaction, but one available to everybody who takes two minutes of his or her busy life to figure it out.
      What I did was so simple that it borders in the stupidity realm. I went to a Bank of America branch in Ann Arbor with a Florida address and bank account and made a deposit. The guy verified my deposit and released the BsF (23 to 1) to the guy in charge of overseeing 10 polling stations. Enough for phone, food and transportation.
      And concerning the currency regulators of the chavista government: fuck them.
      My only regret about Francisco’s post? Should nave made it sooner

  52. Quico, I think you are out of order. What this people are doing in is political expression by shoving it into the face of a Government that tried to screw them and deny their right to vote. It is a rebellion, as simple as that. I live very far away, but vote comfortably in the consulate here, but if they shut it down, I would pay all the money in the world to go back and vote. You are asking people to change a personal decision for money better spent for the same purpose. It would be like asking you to give up writing the blog a month ago and come back to Caracas to spend your time doing something more worthwhile, effective and productive.

  53. Ok, lets start with creative suggestions of sending dollars to Venezuela and transforming them in Bolivars . Paypal account ? Credit Card ? Maybe a direct transfer at 6.3 Bs / $ ?

    • Here is a creative one. I have ten contacts who would buy US$ at 23 if you deposit in his/her US account. They will release the Bolivars in Venezuela to whoever you want to receive them provided you fax a receipt of the deposit.

  54. Does this also apply to you? (if it makes people angry, well as far as I’m concerned that’s a feature, not a bug – people are often angry when you challenge senseless but deeply held bits of idiocy…)
    Do you imagine that instead of wandering around this really silly post, all this time would have been used to convince people to vote for Capriles?

  55. Appart from the big f-you to all the people making long trips to vote (we narcissist ignorants, who decided to throw way our money away so that Carla Angola would like us in facebook,) Quico has a point: there is a disconnect between this extraordinary physical and economic effort and the result, some measly 30,000 votes.
    When you get past the bad timing and the tone problems of the piece (even after the re-writes,) what Quico is after is for us to come up with a plan to better use our money. We have to organize ourselves, study the situation, come up with solutions to problems like “how to turn foreign currencies into bolívares”, “how to make it clear that our money doesn’t come from an international coalition against the independent Bolivarian State,” and so on. It’s the intelligent thing to do.
    For now, let’s just vote, drive back and hear the result of the election before we are half way back to our homes, pay the expenses charged to our credit cards in a month or two, and buy the “Caracas Chronicles” book for Kindle (no hardcopy,) as a way to punish Quico for coming up with this idea this late and present it to us in such awful fashion.
    PS:I didn’t read all 165 comments before mine, I just drove for 10 hours. I’m sorry if I’m repeating anyones point.

    • Jose, unlike you -who has gone to a lot of effort- , por suerte a vote in my family will cost maybe a modest (where we live) $10 with bus fare or parking, maybe a coffee. That’s about 230 bolos, no? Not so modest in say, Apure.

      Is that too much for a vote out of country? What else could that have purchased? What is the value of a vote? $10? $150? I mean, WTF. These are smart, well-intentioned people, but they are wrong this time. Your vote is priceless. It was priceless a month ago and it has not changed value.

      • Apart from the happiness and pride that our votes will bring to my wife and I, I see that the investment is disproportionate to the result: just two votes. I’m now reading the comments before mine, people suggesting illegal transactions to transfer funs, which I think could be risky for the person in Venezuela doing the bolívares side of the equation and donation to the candidate.
        I think there are creative ways to do this. There have to be ways to finance expenses that would multiply our money into more votes. This needs to be researched and planed. I thought it was a good point, once I got past the part that I read it while eating a crappy sandwich in Bakersfield not to spend to much money on this crazy voting trip.

      • Sorry Canucklehead, it is clearly not priceless. Would you live on rice and beans for a month to afford to go to vote? Sell your car? Sell your home? There is clearly an amount of money you wouldn’t be willing to pay to go to vote.

        • Igor,

          I wouldn’t sell my car or my house. I could eat rice and beans for a year, I don’t have a sophisticated plate. My point was, I’m not vacationing, I’m not one of this fictional “affluent” expats who is in it for a Facebook pic that will be used by Globovisión. In the social scale, I’m not A or B, maybe I’m in between C and D, some sort of C- in Venezuela. In the US though, I’m a solid D. I get by.

          What I hated the most about Quico’s piece was the moralizing tone of it, as if we were wistfully throwing away money for personal satisfaction. At the very least, I’m not. What I hate about your response is the moralizing tone of it, as if I have no democratic values, as if I have a price to not mobilize. I don’t. However, I see Kico’s point: if for the same money that my wife and I are spending for two votes we could get 10, it would be smart to at the very least study the possibilities.

          • I meant “palate”, not plate. I’m making too many mistakes in these posts, not getting enough sleep.

          • Sorry to say you do have a price to mobilize: at the very least the value of your car. Voting is not a moral imperative that overrides all other considerations, as you have demonstrated.

          • It was a joke, compatriot. We’ll see who among us sells his car first to finance a trip to vote. That person will have the upper hand in this moralistic string of comments. Until then, safe travels.

          • At certain times in history people have demonstrated the proposition that I put forward to Jose.

            If I am wrong, then tell me, how do I value a vote? Does spending $10 on going to vote make a person self indulgent? I find the whole opportunity cost analysis of the exercise of a basic right very strange, like Francisco and others have suddenly gone all Richard Posner possessed by the ghost of Hugo Chavez on us.

          • Could we just agree that none of us has a moral high ground in this argument? Quico came up (perhaps too late and in an insulting way to many) with a very pragmatic suggestion to maximize our investment. I’m pretty sure that if a fund is set up to legally and intelligently contribute with a mobilization system for next elections, most of us will contribute to it. Would that mean that any of us would then not feel the imperative to vote? I don’t know, everyone will make their own decisions. I’m pretty sure I would still make travel arrangements, it’s incredibly fulfilling to hand your vote in.

            I don’t think anyone can give a monetary value to anyones vote (and that is one of the problems with Quico’s piece.) We cannot ignore what people before us did for us to have the right to vote. However, when a large group of Venezuelans is forced to drive for 1,400 kilometers to vote, clearly the system is purposely not working for them. This fight is not one of ideals but of tangible political achievements. We can debate anything, we can prove the wholes in their reasoning and historical references rather easily. However, when we talk about election results, we sound like whining sore losers. I’m not saying that winning should be the goal, no matter the methods. I think our civility has been tested, and we have proved to be principled people. But we need to get creative. Let’s explore all posible options.

    • Thanks for voting Jose!

      Well the thing is, instead of giving the idea in a constructive manner, you know way back before the election started, when there was TIME, Toro though that it was better to present this idea hours before the election, by throwing a big brick in the face of those in Miami who decided to organize themselves to vote in New Orleans, stating that their votes didn’t count, that their money would have been better invested in mobilizing people in Venezuela. When clearly there is not even an open request from the MUD to Venezuelans living abroad.

      I would have sent at least some money, for sure, and I’m sure a lot of people would.

      But let’s no forget that there are practical problems for that kind of logistic to happen, how to transfer money? who will receive the money? how do we make sure that the money will be spent exactly to mobilize voters? The government can launch an accusation to the MUD for receiving tons of money from abroad, and when they see that the money is coming from Miamia, that would certainly cause a higher turnout from Chavista camp. So the TORO’s idea, designed to help the opposition, has backfired, and a lot of time and money is gone down the toilet, as well the fate of the country.

      I’m sorry Toro, but lets face it, this piece is just petty, unnecessary, and out of order, it doesn’t add anything good to the discussion, certainly it does not help the voting process in Venezuela.

      Mucho ayuda el que no estorba…

      Anyway thanks for voting Jose, que sea lo que dios quiera Saludos

      • Thanks for the good wishes. I disagree about Quico’s post not adding anything to the discussion. We should not dismiss an idea that at the very least is intriguing just because Quico had a bad writing day. You might be right, and it could be too risky. It should be studied though.

        Be safe.

        • I would have agreed with you if this post would have had a constructive tone, but you I both know very well that this is not the case. Toro just trashed people of Miami on the basis they are rich people with undeserved attention.

          Until someone in Venezuela can safely address the issues of moving money from abroad to Venezuela, is very risky to even propose something like this so late in the game.


  56. cynical. as an exile living in New Orleans, who also happens to service Venezuelans voting here (in the hospitality industry), both now and back on Oct 7th, i find this view slightly callous and petty. the tears these folks cried the next day were real, i saw them, and el esmero con el cual llego la gente, con gorra tricolor siempre, well, it warmed one exile’s pretty frozen heart. Caracas and New Orleans are sister cities, and there is a large statue of Simon Bolivar on Basin street that i sometimes go to, to think, to pray for our country. yes, these might be all just emotional, symbolic indulgences; and i may be silly to think so, but if we are not fighting for that part of the past as well, what future will we make with what remains?

  57. I find the idea of selling “vote offsets” (you know like “Carbon Offsets”) brilliant. I think it would have worked beautifully if someone would have thought of it sooner and organized it and campaigned for it the right way. Too late for this election though.

    Regarding the tone and the gratuitous slight to the people that did so much to vote in spite of chavismo’s effort to the contrary, I found it completely unnecessary and regrettable.

  58. I agree with the general message of the post: the efficient use of money to turn it into more votes. I don’t know why people take it so personally and feel insulted making a long and expensive trip to vote. To those people, thank you for your vote.

  59. Si la crítica fuera a la MUD por no idear este plan lo entendería, parcialmente. Pero criticar al votante por hacer algo que es innegablemente correcto, si bien no el uso más óptimo de unos recursos que, hasta donde sé nunca han sido de la MUD para comenzar, no sé… Parece que la lógica da pa’tó’o, hasta pa’ criticar.

  60. Reading some of the comments make me realize that we Venezuelans just cannot tolerate somebody else’s opinion. Francisco makes a good point because that money is pretty much used for self-gratification. Even if the article has a couple of technical faults I think it’s mostly sound, because more than anything else, this is HIS opinion, so everybody just take a chill pill and let it go.

    Btw, the technical fault is that CNE did not close the voting center, it was the Foreign Ministry who chose to close the consulate, which is part of the executive branch, so even if it was a nasty move, it was completely legal.

    The other part that people need to realize after participating in a lot of these so called elections is that voting overseas does not matter at all. Hell the votes are not even counted by the time they release the main figures. So depending where you are, instead of freezing your ass/wasting time, just go have some fun and forget about that dreadful country that some of us liked to call home. It’s more a bunch of monkeys fighting for bananas than a country. Better spend your money getting your family out of there and be happy. Otherwise just go, live there and try to fix the problem where it matters, instead of complaining from a faraway land.

  61. Wow, another fascinating post. My conclusion is that Quico’s points are welltaken but his timing was not good and he was a little insensitive to a lot of people. If we have another chance to vote in the near future, it would be important for the MUD to consider how to give expats a viable option to donate to the campaign instead of, or in addition to, spending a disproportionate amount of money to excersise their rights personally. They have a right to make their own decisions without criticism or, especially, ridicule.

    Maybe this post should be re-visited in a more positive manner after the dust clears after this election.

    By the way Syd, talk about being unnecessarily aggressive! You made your points in a couple of comments, the rest of your comments consisted of personal attacks against Quico and Juan. Try meditating to relieve your anger and resentment!

  62. Most of the times, I like what you write. But I think that this time you just lost it…

    Voting in New Orleans is about defying and defeating the evil intentioned actions of the government, who made their best to have these people not voting.

    The numbers of votes are important. The motivation and the positive message sent to potential voters, inside and outside of Venezuela, has a multiplier effect. How can I comfortably go to Higuerote when these guys are crossing hundreds of miles to vote?

    In Venezuela, you are supposed to vote in a location close to the place where you live. There are voting centers in the most distant corners of the country. However, if you are so concerned about Guasdalito voters (Would you please specify which specific struggles they have to go through to vote?), I’m wondering, what have YOU done to help them vote? Why are you criticizing and demoralizing these voters that are making a sacrifice to exercise a right?

    I’m very disappointed at you. I had you in higher esteem. I think that this time, you are just not seeing the whole picture, and are just reacting to your inner “resentido”, who just found an opportunity to show off. Very weird, coming for a Venezuelan blogger writing in English.

    • I’m having second thoughts about calling you resentido… I think you just were working too hard to show your wit. But it went wrong…

    • “However, if you are so concerned about Guasdalito voters (Would you please specify which specific struggles they have to go through to vote?)”

      They face a member of the PSUV standing in front of them threatening them that if they don’t vote for Maduro, they will lose their job/misión/house given by the government. We really cannot remain this clueless about how the PSUV works during election time.


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