An argument full of holes

Caught red-handed
Caught red-handed

Re. the opposition’s strategy to get out the vote, Quico said:

“The reason people were able to vote with cédulas chimbas, or to do coercive votos asistidos, is that opposition witnesses were forcibly barred from doing their jobs. By guys with guns. Backed by guys in uniforms.

That basic power imbalance is still there. There’s no amount of opposition witness training that can shortcircuit the fact that when a guy puts a kalashnikov to your head and throws you out of the voting center, you’re good and thrown out of the voting center.

So I really have to call bullshit on this idea that we have what it takes to stop a 14-A style fraud from happening again. If what Capriles says happened in April really happened, there’s nothing he or any of us can do to stop it happening again.”

Along those lines comes this ditty from Dr. No:

“Elections in Vzla are like a soup eating contest where one of the guys is willing to drink straight from the bowl while the opponent insists in using the spoon. Different moral-ethics standards will bypass the purpose of the contest. We can’t base our bet on the fact that the bad guy someday will fail to cheat.”

Both comments are fallacious, because they are based on the idea that cheating is an “either or” proposition. Either the government cheats, in which case the whole exercise is pointless, or they don’t cheat, in which case let’s all go out and vote.

The fact is that they do cheat, but our actions can affect the extent to which they can get away with it. This is a point Capriles has made repeatedly. Think he’s wrong? Explain, then, how it is that we don’t have a Governor Elías Jaua, or a Governor Luis Reyes Reyes.

Cheating requires the complicity of many people. An organized opposition presence in certain voting centers can and will act as a deterrent. Furthermore, there are many, many voting centers where there is no cheating at all. Capriles’ argument is that if you’re going to win by ten points, cheating may lower that to six points, or eight if you get your act together, but you still win. But if you don’t go and vote, then the battle is lost before it’s begun.

Yes, guys with guns forcibly remove witnesses. But does that happen everywhere? Can we prevent it? Capriles thinks we can … somewhat. He believes our actions can contain the extent to which cheating affects the outcome. And that little sign that says “Gobernador de Miranda” is proof that he can deliver.

At least that’s how I see it. At any rate, I’ll be able to blog about it come December 8th, as I plan to be in Caracas for the election for the first time in eons.

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  1. Actually, it would be interesting to know the “percentage of freedom” the government has. I mean, how much real advantage they need to win an election. The most interesting example out there must be the 2007 Constitutional Referendum. We won by less than 1 point if I remember correctly. I remember that we were already (in the parties) very conscious of these problems in the voting centers but I have never seen some sort of calculation, with real data, of how many points we need to feel safe.

    • This argument kind of reminds me of a videogame called Tropico in wich you could run a banana republic in a caribbean island as el presidente, similar to SimCity but with funny latinamerican references from the 50s, 60s and 70s (and 80s, 90s and sadly 00s and 10s), in it you could steal an election that had been lost by up to 10%, beyond that, cheating would no be possible.

  2. I agree with Juan on this issue. To add one more point to Juan’s, this strategy also helps to expose the regime’s lack of integrity and legitimacy to the Venezuelan people and to the world.

  3. Hey, you’re the one telling people to go back to vote 8 months after you told them they stole an election from you as you stood by helpless and let it happen. But it’s my argument that’s full of holes.

    • “Let it happen” … really, Quico? What exactly is your point? That the cheating didn’t happen? Or that it happened but Capriles should have kept quiet about it? Or that given that it happened, you can’t possibly ask people to go out and vote again? That, somehow, Capriles’ failure to prevent fraud from happening means we should all sit by and put up with Titina Azuaje, Alcaldesa del Municipio Bolivariano de Chacao?

    • With JC here. The key word is “deterrent”. There will be cheating, but the magnitude of the cheating can be diminished by presence. They may be able to coerce or point guns here and there, but the need for them to do that must be there. And even if they do it they won’t be able to do so extensively and it would deepen the legitimacy crisis.

  4. I agree with you, there is a whole spectrum here.
    There are more people there showing up, getting organised, becoming bolder.
    My relatives there tell me they still have lots of problems and Chavismo does a lot of
    dirty tricks (including military men taking away boxes and all, taking buses full of people, etc)
    but in more places where Chavismo used to triumph completely there are more people daring to speak up. But these people need the help of those Venezuelans who live in such places as El Hatillo, Chacao or Northern Valencia.

    I still think: Capriles needs to explain better that now we need to get some of those “helping” in very secure voting areas to other areas where we were weaker before…the more, the merrier.

  5. I’m with Quico. My family is not buying it, doesn’t matter how many times I say it’s important or that this a local election which might be important in the long run. There is a clear sense that there is no point in voting. They don’t believe that Capriles and co will somehow defend the election this time (given the marvelous job they did last time). They see the opposition as being petty and worried about their own skin and not caring about the real issues out there. My family has voted in every election and they’re not voting on this one. Does not bode well and the oppo message is just not doing it.

      • Andean region and yes I tried all the arguments exposed here. It does not work. They have indeed “tirado la toalla”. We stopped even discussing it as we always end up in a fight.

    • Congratulations, Platy, for having such an unusually coherent family on the issue of ‘not voting this time, cuz we don’t believe the BS’. How many members are there who are all using the same prayer book?

    • Well your family will be a little responsible for the Madurismo lasting longer…THe no vote strategy does not work…Chavez understood that in 1998 and he got elected. I do understand that is not easy but “tirar la toalla” is not an option! It is going to be difficult but any time that elections happens the gap between reds and no-reds gets smaller…Remember that Maduro only could be proclaim president by an very small margin…they will cheat, but if people do not vote the cheating effect will be bigger….Now do not believe that a win of oppositiion in may places will be a change of scenario…en Venezuela hay que echarle mucho ovario/bolas to make the situation better…voting on Dec 8 is only one of the small easy things that everybody can do! y despues a echale mas bolas/ovarios

  6. But, ok, fair enough…*in*principle* you’re right: A much, much better organized opposition witness operation, one that’s much better resourced, much more intensively trained would, in fact, probably make a difference in this regard. Not *that* much of a difference, as in the end they have all the guns, all the institutions, and all the airwaves. But, on the margin, *some* difference. I’ll go along with that.

    The question then becomes empirical. Where oh where is the evidence of this vastly expanded, much improved opposition witness training effort? Who are the donors cutting 7-figure checks (or handing over bags of cash) to fund this effort?

    It’s not happening, Juan. It’s not happening for a whole host of reasons, mostly resource related, but also related to the fact that this isn’t one election, it’s 335 elections in 335 different municipalities, a good 200 of which we have zero chance of winning and therefore barely have a presence/campaign in.

    And where we do have a campaign, we have campaigns led not by Capriles, or some office in Caracas, but by candidates in each place who have to allocate VERY scarce resources between actual campaigning and these training efforts and too often prioritize the former, which they know how to do, over the latter, where many remain distinctly hazy.

    If, ahead of 14A, with L.Lopez running the witness operation, major nationwide focus on the likelihood of fraud, globovision still on our side and people still somewhat fired up and ready to go, if under those circumstances we didn’t even manage to train our witnesses to “levantar actas” to document irregularities (fun fact the oppo leadership conveniently never mentions: less than 2% of allegations of 14A irregularities were written up in CNE actas!!) you’re telling me in these circumstances we’re going to put together a world beating witness operation?!

    It’s sheer fantasy, Juan, c’mon!

    • Again – how did they manage to prevent Jaua from stealing the election in Miranda? Look, I don’t know the details of these things, I just look at the outcome. And the outcome is not always as bleak as you paint it.

      • Quico has a point about the fact this time people are just going for the local spoils, for the special, local interests.

        In my opinion we will keep most of the mayors, we will lose a couple of them and win over a couple more than what we lose, but just a couple…which means the percentage of municipalities we will win shall be less than 4%. Still: we need to call people to vote and above all we need to ask those in secure places to help those few municipalities where we might have a change now.

    • FT, very well-put. However, many on this Blog thought it was futile to vote on 4/11, and, miracle of miracles, look what happened. The good fight must be fought. That said, this will be no plebiscite on Maduro’s hopeless regime: as you mentioned, the majority of municipalities up for grabs cannot be won by the Oppo, due to a combination of::their heavy dependency on Govt. salaries/Misiones/Pensiones/assorted handouts-outright payments to vote; the well-funded local Big Red get-out-the-vote electoral machinery using intimidation/outright threats; the at least 20M electoral centers where the Oppo will not have any witnesses (as in 4/11-I, too, fell for the LL promise of near-complete coverage); and, the woefully-underfunded Oppo electoral campaign.

  7. I wonder how many people have thought it through to the next step after, or when the oppos ” prove” Chavistas are cheating….and…What happens NOW when absurdities occur and lies are told when they appear obviously false to any thinking being?

    cognitive dissonance

  8. And, you know, I’m keeping these comments off the main blog for a reason.

    I don’t want to seem gleeful as I dump on our guys running in this election. I sympathize with them, in the same way I sympathize with the black knight in Monty Python’s Holy Grail who’s determined to keep on fighting after all his arms and legs have been cut off. “I’ll bite you!”

    Takes real heart to keep at this fight, and no, it’s not their fault that they have no access to any of the resources it would take to do it successfully.

    But we should keep our wits about us as we assess what’s actually happening, ¿no?

    • A large majority of opposition voters believe the game is rigged…and believe the opposition should participate anyway. Because that’s what democrats do — they participate in elections. Even when the electoral body is biased, even when the vote is not free or fair. Organizing for elections — it’s a good kind of pressure. Participating in elections — shows Venezuelans how you intend to win back power (ie not through strikes or coups). And voting in elections — puts pressure on the government.

      • I think there are legitimate questions, at this stage, about effectiveness.

        For the government, I really doubt that losing a bunch of sifrino municipalities generates any effective pressure at all.

        You could see it as a successful cooptation strategy. Municipal elections keep opposition political parties engaged and invested in a political system they should be focused on overthrowing.

        For the government, it’s el negocio redondo – for the price of a few small situado transfers, they keep thousands of opposition activists busily working on a system that will never cede power via the ballot-box at the level that really matters, the level where the PDVSA kitty is at stake.

        The opposite argument, to my mind, is much tougher to make: which specific official ends up in charge of picking up the garbage in El Hatillo or fixing the streetlights in Guacara doesn’t matter one bit to the stability of the national government.

        And the nationwide political impact that could imaginably be felt if, say, PSUV loses 65-35 nationally is vitiated by two simple facts: the demobilizing effects of having already told your supporters that the government steals elections from you, which no 4 minute youtube video can really hope to counter, and the fact that even if you did win 65-35 (which you won’t), nobody would hear about it because you have no access to media.

        8D is a distraction, guys. The real work of politics happens at the ballot box only in democracies. In systems like ours, it’s a sideshow.

        • If the opposition were to win 55-45, or 60-40, the opposition voters will hear it, and they would be emboldened. I also think chavistas will hear about it, and Maduro is bound to face calls for change from within if the PSUV does poorly. Venezuela isn’t North Korea yet.

        • Quico
          I see clearly now where the heart of the disagreement lies. You think politics is futile, you called it the “Normal Politics Trap”. For you the only way out is through some kind of plot or guerrilla movement that ends up in an overthrow of the regime. Elections are futile because it is impossible for an election to happen and then the chavistas meekly hand power over to the winner.

          There is another way, if there is enough pressure from the people in the streets, in the industry with demonstrations, strikes, etc. the chavistas would see their support crumble and eventually would have to cave. But how can that possibly happen? The only way is through influencing the minds of a large majority of the country. And how do you do that? Through politics, even “Normal Politics”. In that sense elections are not a magic wand that will unravel the problem but is just a step in the long process. An important step to organize and motivate the supporters, to gauge the progress, and to wrestle from chavismo however small or big, parcel of power as possible. You minimize the tremendous advantage of having a sympathetic mayor instead of a hostile one for political activity, but it makes such a difference specially when you are having to scrape for resources with your fingernails.

          No. Politics is not futile is actually the only way out.

          • I should clarify what I mean when I say Politics, because many may think politics is participating in elections and congress and all the normal institutions of a democracy. Politics with a capital P is the act of influencing people, is going out and meeting and communicating with people and gaining their support and their allegiance. Politics does not require a democracy to work, it happens all the time and in under any circumstances. It is not based on formal institutions, the politician creates his/her own institutions, their own network of communication. Politics is a stronger force than violence and military power because everyone participates in politics all the time, men, women, the young the old, the strong, the weak.That’s where the term “the pen is mightier than the sword” comes from.
            In that context the way out of the chavismo nightmare is through developing a large majority of support among the venezuelan people (voters or not voters, it doesn’t matter). There is tipping point a critic mass where that support will naturally push with unstoppable strength for a change, we are not there yet but as demonstrated in April 11, we are getting closer.

          • Amieres,

            Quite true to some extent for many countries, but in the case Venezuela being an oil country where many believe ” we have oil so we are already rich and its only a matter of handing out the wealth” and the fact many are too uneducated to knowthe difference , the main way a political platform can influence is through leftist ideas that promise the moon.People in Venezuela right now do not believe that educated people of the middle class are truly on their side, whereas it is quite easy for Chavistas to totally convince a certain steady clientele of their common roots and concerns.

            That is why it will be hard to accomplish goals opposition through this means.

          • Actually the reason most people don’t like the idea of having to earn the support of a majority is because it seems like a lot of work. They want a shortcut, something that can happen before Christmas. (even Chavez thought like that)
            Yes, is not an easy task and the government holds the best cards. But there is one card that trumps all the rest and that’s reality. The reality of how disastrous life in Venezuela has become, the murders, crimes, scarcity, corruption, blackouts. They can blame the opposition for all that but that way they only destroy their own credibility. More and more people will recognize them as bold face liars and will interpret anything they say as the opposite of truth. Their immense incompetence, lack of charisma, and lies will do most of the work even if people still go and collect their handouts.

          • Another clarification, about elections.
            We won’t defeat chavismo with an election, we need to defeat chavismo first to then have a fair election.
            Elections, per se, wont defeat chavismo, they are not a magic key that will unlock the secret door to triumph, or a magic wand that will fulfill our wishes. Is just a battle in a long protracted war. A fight that needs to be fought to the best of our capacities without dismay or despair but also without false hopes.
            Keep in mind that there are no absolutes. Like others have said if the support is big enough no amount of cheating can prevent an oppo win. Why is that? Because chavismo still has to maintain appearances, not for the people outside or the oppositors but for the “chavistas de a pie”. Make the cheat too evident and they will loose their own supporters.
            Make a big enough mistake that becomes viral and they may have a firestorm in their hands.

          • “Quico
            I see clearly now where the heart of the disagreement lies. You think politics is futile, you called it the “Normal Politics Trap”. For you the only way out is through some kind of plot or guerrilla movement that ends up in an overthrow of the regime. Elections are futile because it is impossible for an election to happen and then the chavistas meekly hand power over to the winner.”

            You live long enough, you get to see everything. Quico has gone from being derided as a crypto-chavista comeflor to being dismissed as a radical coupster. Cheers! 🙂

          • I don’t think he is a coupster much less a radical. He just doesn’t believe in politics as a force powerful enough to expel chavismo from power leaving in his mind only the “other options”. His position is you either conspire (“… a political system they should be focused on overthrowing”) or lament the situation.

            For instance:
            “What if we spent all the time, all the resources, and all the effort we’re currently wasting on Normal Politics of the type rendered powerless by authoritarianism and devoted them to the types of infiltration-and-subversion tactics that really might make a dent in the regime’s power?”

          • The reality on the ground, right now, is that the opposition is spending a couple of orders of magnitude more of its very scarce resources squabbling over who will be the next mayor of El Hatillo than it spends on, say, Guatire, or San Francisco in Zulia, or any of dozens of places where the bulk of normal, class C and D voters live and are perceived as no-hope municipalities.

            That’s the dynamic that a municipal election creates.

            What we have here is a distraction. It’s not the end of the world. But it’s also not helpful.

          • That mismanagement of resources is certainly a distraction (of scarce resources) but not the election itself which is an important event for the opposition, not crucial or anything but important nonetheless.

  9. The main reason for voting and the one for which I and mine will be there at the cannon-foot, is that each no-show incrementally bolsters the legitimacy of a flawed outcome: if the opposition can show it won is some parts and near-as-dammit did in lots of others AND can show – as in the previous case – multiple non-kosher shenanigans by the electoral authorities, it robustly undermines any regime claims to have reflected the will of the people. To stay home on the day is to roundly underpin the government’s shady dealings, in my mind, a weighty culpability.

  10. The importance of this election is also the magnitude and extend if spreaded power in the country. For governor elections it is really a fight for the chair of each state in which if the chavismo doesn’t win they simply create a parallel state just like they do in all areas in order to relocate budgets to make dirty politics, just like the examples of Zulia under Pablo Perez and Rosales and Miranda with Capriles.
    However the government simply cannot create a parallel local government and parallel city representatives if there is a massive vote in favor of the opposition and if the opposition makes it to win the majority of alcaldias. They simply can’t with all the issues around Maduro and the lowering cash flow from Pdvsa. An overwhelming number of mayors in favor to the opposition would start changing the political transitional scenario and that is basically the message that Capriles, with enough, cojones has been delivering.

  11. Am I travelling back in time? Didn’t we talk about this for years in this blog for the love of God?

    I thought this gruyere argument was already being resolved (me being one like Platy, of not seeing why going to vote if my vote was gonna be stolen) but the good hearted people of this blog, Bruni, Syd and others opened my eyes as if I don’t go to vote there is no vote to be stolen so Chavistosos will win fair and square. So if people go to vote in masses the thing starts to get hairy and hairier to the thief to work it out.

    Didn’t we ALL agree with it?

    So, to this point the whole domino game it’s more about a “tranca” than perhaps would lead to a win than anything else. The thing not to do is NOT making it extremely difficult to the thieves, who we know are very incompetent. For more Cuban help and what not, the achiles point of this people are how incompetent they are, not that the oppo are so well oiled as Quico pointed but… there is more hope on that side than the roja rojita.

    I mean, it’s a given than Chavistas are committing fraud, the point is to try for then to make the biggest fraud possible so perhaps they are unable to commit the whole operation and becomes obvious.

    What’s the other option?

    That’s the way I see it anyway.

    Focus people, focus. :O

    OT: Who is watching sargent Brody’s vacation on the Torres de David? (didn’t see this week episode so shhh with spoliers pls)

    • Feathers, Do you actually think if people don’t go to vote that the Chavistosos will win fair and square ? I don’t think so.There has been nothing in this regime fair and square from the get go, and thinking people know that.

      Non thinking people will never accept anything fair and will always see the opposition as disingenuous.

  12. I, for one, prefer having the election stolen than just gladly handing it to the chavistas. If the decision is between forcing them to cheat or allowing them to chill in the comfort of knowing that they have already twisted our arms, I’d go with the former. Especially when I’ve heard of no plan B (if we don’t go and vote, what are we supposed to do exactly to fight chavismo while enjoying the beautiful tan we got on the beach Dec. 8th?) Yes, this is la pregunta de las cuarenta mil lochas, but as long as there is no answer to it, I don’t see the upside of not voting. Is it because by voting we supposedly legitimize the corrupted electoral system and the government in general? I don’t buy that argument. I just can’t imagine Nicolás et al crossing their fingers in the hope of a massive turnout which they can use as a validation tool. Don’t you think he would’ve preferred to have a 10% points victory on 14-A, even at the “price” of a much larger abstention rate? I’m pretty sure they are eager to get rid of the whole electoral dimension of their democracy carcass and refraining from voting is, as I see it, making that easier for them.

    I understand the frustration, the deep arrechera of being stolen the elections. The thing is, going from a struggle to get our votes counted and acknowledged to a struggle to get the votes casted, is a step backwards in the battle. (As long as we want to keep this a civic, semi-institutional, non-violent battle). Pointing fingers at Capriles and the opposition “leaders” because they somehow betrayed us, because they let chavistas steal the elections, etc. is, I believe, somewhat childish. And I don’t defend him because he’s saint. I’m just saying: he’s no messiah, he’s a teammate, and I happen to believe he did the best he could and he’s still tryin’ to help us get rid of this mess. I just know this: I’m not gonna stop doing what I think I should do just because the guy who’s supposed to “lead” us is just not that good.

    The bottom line is that nobody in the world (not even folks in Scandinavia) votes to change the result of elections, because it is absolutely impossible from a probabilistic point of view, to alter the results. We all know that. And we keep voting, not to make a change really, but because we believe the act itself is an affirmation of some values we happen to believe in. I personally feel that casting the vote on 8D has a meaning, which is in fact enhanced by the nightmare-like situation we are going through.

    I can see the “voting is pointless” under certain conditions on the meaning of “pointless”, but damm, I really fail to see how not voting helps us get rid of these thugs.

  13. Im not sure all coercion exercised in last aprils election was at gun point or involved actual phisical violence but rather took a more nuanced or indirect form , also that oppo reps if isolated or in a tiny minority and lacking any hard organizational backing will not be as vehement in objecting to some electoral abuse than if he is part of a group and it can call on organizational reinforcements or intervention . The former crasser form of coercion is more likely in places where the oppo reps are percieved as weak and isolated or as lacking in organizational support !!

  14. The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela at this point can be several things. It is NOT a Republic. It has not been a Republic since 2006.

    It is simply laughable to even think that chavismo’s “institutions” which purport to be those of a Republic, or that chavismo’s means of communicational hegemony can (even if they wanted) impede their masters Maduro and Cabello in any way.

    Our opposition, peaceful as it wants to be and peaceful as it should be, should be, should feel at home with reality. Whatever game we are playing, this is not a Republic, and Democracy as such is more than compromised through the usual channels.

    We would do well in looking at what other democratic, peaceful and republican movements in other countries did, when they did challenge authoritarian regimes (even those pretending to be republics) and won. Then, we should devise our own Venezuelan plan for having a reasonably clean election where we can, even winning an election in a highly undemocratic environment where there’s absolutely NO chance that the “institutional” channels will ever work, in fact a certainty is there that they will support whatever kind of fraud.

    We want to vote, and win an election? Well, the game is NOT democracy. The game rules are not the republic’s.

  15. To my knowledge, the real trap Maduro win allowed the 600,000 dead are there in the REP (which were mentioned in a report by the MUD on the elections of 7 -O , ie , at a time that suited them raise doubts about the election results ) , and witnesses expelled from the tables. In any case , they would be expelled witnesses allowing smooth add the votes of the dead, although I suspect that this phenomenon may well have occurred at tables where there were witnesses to the opposition with the automated system .

    The point is that I’m going to vote in these elections because they will be the last semi-free in the history of Venezuela if Chavez continues in power. After all , I think they recognize us we won governors and mayors to try to maintain the illusion that this is a democratic country to the world , because this illusion is key to the maintenance of Chavez .

    However, I fear that in 2014 the REP filled with millions of dead to the point that even if we won with 70 % of votes we recognize the win.

  16. Love how you put it Gustavo: “I, for one, prefer having the election stolen than just gladly handing it to the chavistas. If the decision is between forcing them to cheat or allowing them to chill in the comfort of knowing that they have already twisted our arms, I’d go with the former”

  17. if people are really being forced out of voting stations with guns, you need to document that. distribute smartphones with (hopefully available) wireless internet. throw lots of money into it, have a process where, at least 1 out of 5 times someone is coerced at gunpoint, the footage hits the net within an hour. risky? hell yes. I’m not missing that people may have gun pointed at them. but isn’t that what you’re talking about? there’s gotta be some brave people willing to risk their lives?

    • “…Throw lots of money into it…”

      Ah of course! Those tens of millions of dollars opposition parties have been foolishly keeping in their mattresses! Why didn’t anyone think of this before?!!

      Thank you, Marti. THANK YOU!

  18. Local elections have never done much except for Miranda, perhaps. People do seem to be unhappy of what is happening in every level of government. If chavismo wins, and continue to screw up in every basic task… (which they will) how long before the sabotage card cannot be played anymore do we have?

    I agree with Quico, this is a waste of time and resources… people should go out and vote but we should not really make a big deal about it. Let them have the seats and have no excuse to play the sabotage card. If nothing improves (which it wont) they will only have themselves to blame and we’d be fueling their own rivalries. At this point, I believe we have a better chance from chavismo’s self destruction than from anything or anyone else.

    Challenging and important will be the 2016 elections as the national assembly is the only institution that may perhaps put some order in the house… or at least prevent a possible new president (Capriles?) from properly executing his mandate.

  19. First, im honored to have been quoted by juan. Un brazo hermano, un abrazo quico, keep up this blog alive until at least the new dawn.
    Second, Juan you are right, we can electorally beat these guys (14 abril), but not legally (no podemos cobrar).
    The Miranda triumph was recognized due to who knows what deal, and please don’t say “because of huge numbers”, the vote quantity threshold argument is merely theoretical and as such even if true we don’t know by how many more votes the trampa simply would stop working.
    I also agree when you say we are not N.K. yet and hence we have the opportunity to beat them on the street. The capriles marcha before the oct. election was immensely larger than anything the gvmnt has ever assembled, meaning we do have the necessary punch. we simply need to stop playing by their asymmetrical rules and focus on the fact that we are numerically stronger and hungrier. Calle y mas nada, even a caveman could do it. We are the most irreverent and pata e’ bola people on earth and yet we somehow swallow everything these rats toss our way.

  20. “If the opposition were to win 55-45, or 60-40, the opposition voters will hear it, and they would be emboldened.”

    There be the rub though. Without a large enough margin of victory, there is simply no defending that can be done given the power imbalance. Everything else is chatter and justifying one’s decision to show up or not.

    “…the vote quantity threshold argument is merely theoretical and as such even if true we don’t know by how many more votes the trampa simply would stop working.”

    The margin needed to reach a point of no return may be indeterminate, but it is not theoretical!

    • In so few words, we should admit we are going to elections with an authoritarian regime. Not a Republic. In here, we are counting on some magical margin that will make the fraud impossible to hide, and (if we are lucky) some international outrage, if there are protests because of the fraud. We are never counting on some “institution” doing (if they are able to!, if ever they could! or wanted to!) the right thing for a second. Not a Republic.

      • The important thing is not that “magical margin” at a specific election or in a specific ‘municipio’ is also not about the institutions or people abroad and what they do is about gaining and maintaining the support of the people, the venezuelans. That is something that transcends elections. We should not think of elections as “the solution” to the regime problem. Like I commented before: We won’t defeat chavismo with an election, we need to defeat chavismo first to then have a fair election.

        So this election is a step in that fight, is about rallying support and obtaining as many mayoral positions as possible, gaining political space and strength, without illusions of a quick and “magical” solution.

  21. I’m a little stuck on there being nothing one can do about it. Off the top of my head I can think that being more camera ready, or recording ready, or having CB radio networks up and running, are things that can be done.

  22. The chavernment is a soft dictatorship.

    They have not made media criticism illegal or imposed censorship. Instead they have pulled broadcast licenses, cut off newsprint supplies, etc. They achieve a result close to what they want, but there is a risk for them – that the media, not formally controlled by them, may report what they want suppressed. Note the recent post on the chavista newspaper 2001, which was hammered for daring to cover a riot over pernil.

    LIkewise in politics. The chavernment has not made political opposition a crime, as in Cuba. Nor has it abolished secret ballots (illegal assistance aside), nor does it just invent the results it wants. Instead they rely on overwhelming organizational resources, stolen from the state, and a limited amount of cheating to get to a “majority”. The risk is that the voters might just vote against them.

    We know that at minimum, nearly half of Venezuelans oppose the chavernment. The chavernment cannot legitimately get more than the narrow majority of 14 April. If the oppo does not fight, the chavernment wins, and they claim legitimacy.

    What the oppo can do it is force the chavernment to steal elections flagrantly. breaching its illusion of legitimacy,

    The chavernment actually has little margin; its real voting support is less than 50%, so it must cheat and steal to survive. But its image is very tattered; it cannot cheat very much without offending its remaining friends.

    The stronger the oppo vote, the more the chavernment has to cheat. But the chavernment doesn’t want to cheat any more than they must. Suppose they misjudge how much they need to cheat. it is possible that they will be forced to accept a defeat.

    It is not impossible – it happened in Nicaruagua.

    • Right. Just remember. Don’t expect that any of the media under chavismo control or intimidation to report any of it. Normally, they won’t. Don’t expect any so-called “institution” of chavismo to work as anything else but an arm of the same. Don’t expect them to show any regard for legitimacy. Specially if they feel like they can fabricate it. Particularly if loss of legitimacy does not have a terrible price. Don’t expect chavismo to concede defeat, unless the alternative is worse. Don’t expect many international institutions to react at first, or to react at all.


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