A few weeks ago, Nicolás Maduro said that Hugo Chávez appeared to him in the form of a bird to give him his blessing. The whole “bird” meme quickly went viral, and it’s fair to say it became a defining moment in the campaign.
But was it a blunder, or a stroke of genius?
Capriles advisor J.J. Rendón seems to think it was a blunder (see here, starting at the 14:15 mark, continuing in the second part of the interview). He saw it as a moment of honesty from Maduro, a follower of Sai Baba and a believer in reincarnation and/or the transmigration of souls (my apologies for not being well-versed in Indian neomysticism). His theory is that it puts Maduro in a different plane than mainstream Venezuelans, who simply saw this as nuts.
Datanálisis pollster Luis Vicente León, on the other hand, thinks this reinforced the whole “supernatural” aspect of Maduro’s campaign. He sees the bird moment as the turning point, the instant when the Maduro campaign finally crossed the rubicon and became something celestially predetermined.
I haven’t commented much on this because I honestly don’t know what to make of the bird moment. Obviously, to me it’s bizarre and convoluted. Then again, Venezuelans have no problem with bizarre and convoluted. It could go either way for me.
Regardless, after tonight, when we find out the results, we will view the bird episode as either a stroke of genius, or a major blunder.