8-D Races to Watch: El Hatillo (Updated)


escudo el hatilloEl Hatillo is the smallest municipality in Caracas, and one of the bluest in the country. It’s also the most unusual case of the upcoming election: the MUD is running with separate candidates deliberately.

After the unexpected passing of the 2012 primary winner, the opposition tried to rally around an alternative candidate. This wasn’t simple, as El Hatillo is so pitiyanqui the fear of splitting the oppo ticket doesn’t really apply – chavismo never gets more than 20% here. So, the MUD allowed individual parties to run on their own.

As a Middle Class municipality with a healthy tax base, El Hatillo makes for a tasty morsel for any up-and-coming oppo leader wanna be. Running El Hatillo guarantees the kind of money to fund a local patronage network any politician would salivate over. Not surprising then that El Hatillo has turned into a kind of Oppo-Circular Firing Squad, with no less than five viable(ish) candidates – including Henry Ramos Allup’s wife! – slugging it out in what has turned into a singularly nasty money-fight of a campaign.

Jose Manuel Hernandez (Primero Justicia) was the original MUD candidate for El Hatillo. He died five days after winning the February 2012 primary.

Primero Justicia’s José Manuel Hernández handily won the February 2012 primary, defeating six other candidates (including the joke of an outgoing Mayor Myriam Do Nacimiento).

Just five days later, Hernández died
unexpectedly during a medical surgery to remove a benign tumour. He was 42.

Elías Sayegh, candidate of Primero Justicia.
Elías Sayegh, candidate of Primero Justicia and six other political parties

Hernández’s political protege Elías Sayegh is now Primero Justicia’s candidate.

The young lawyer and businessman is running on his local roots and his electoral platform is mostly focused in the issue of security. 

But there has been some controversies: From an alleged giveaway of electric appliances to the multiple road-paving works done by his campaign. Sayegh has denounced a “dirty campaign” against him and his family, blaming other candidates.

David Smolansky, candidate of Voluntad Popular
David Smolansky, candidate of Voluntad Popular and two other political parties

Leopoldo Lopez’s party Voluntad Popular selected former member of the student movement David Smolansky as candidate.

His background includes his immigrant origins and his role in 2007’s protests, and his platform pledges an open government.

VP’s 2012 primary candidate (he came 3rd) Eduardo Battistini quit the party in disagreement and endorsed Sayegh.

Diana D’Agostino, candidate of 11 political parties (including AD, COPEI, MAS, PV and UNT).

A large group of parties are backing Diana D’Agostino, who was until recently chairwoman of El Hatillo’s Children & Family Foundation (Fundahinfa).

She presents her earlier work as head of children’s charity foundations as proof of her governing skills. Her plans include what she calls “neighbor integration”.

D’Agostino is married to AD’s General Secretary Henry Ramos Allup.

Councilman Hector Catalán, candidate of Democracia Renovadora (DR)

Closing the list of opposition candidates is the only active councilman in the running, Hector Catalán. He’s the brother of former mayor Alfredo Catalán (2000-2008).

Catalán’s bid is based on his experience and he has criticized his fellow opponents for “offering deceitful promises”.

He was pretty insistent in calling a special primary to choose MUD’s candidate.

Miguel Angel Mariño, candidate of the PSUV-GPP
Miguel Angel Mariño, candidate of the PSUV-GPP

And last but not least, there’s Chavismo.

Miguel A. Mariño is looking to be the first ever rojo, rojito mayor of El Hatillo and he calls himself “the only guarantee that the central government will help the area”.

His focus will be on tourism, saying that “…martians will visit El Hatillo”. #AhOk

UPDATE: As several commenters have pointed out, there’s another opposition candidate named Bernard Faucher which was left out because of length concerns. But in response to the interest to his particular case, I decided to incorporate him in this post.

Bernard Faucher, candidate of OPINA and PS

Bernard Faucher is the only candidate of the 2012 primary running in this election. Back then, he ended in fifth place.

He critized the MUD’s “arbitary” attitude, accusing it of helping the big parties only.

His main focus is on security matters, as he’s a security consultant. His proposals include reforming the local police and use crime mapping to improve its work.

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  1. Thumbs up for the overview of El Hatillo, GEHA (along with your other similar posts). I also like your layout! Thank you for the good read, easy on the eyes.

  2. I would complement the post by the issue of road work made by Sayegh. There is some uncertainty of where the funds came from. Apparently he had connections to a road work company and there are some rumors that he got the job “fia’o”. Some others say that it was the governorship but seems doubtful (too risky on HCR’s).

    Maybe he got the funds legitimately. Nonetheless it is kinda funky to campaign performing tasks that are not yet in his plate.

  3. I find offensive to equate being an opposant with being a “pitiyanqui”. We shouldn’t take the insults thrown at us as if they represented our true identity.

  4. Danke Schön!

    Now I have a question for any readers from El Hatillo, or in the know. Where do these candidates stand on the recent controversies (Plan San Antonio and PDUL, are the ones I’ve heard)?

    I’m not too clear on what either controversy is, even less on who are the factions. I think is about commercial zoning in the benefit of construction companies, without due planning for roads and other public services.

  5. “Running El Hatillo guarantees the kind of money to fund a local patronage network any politician would salivate over.”

    Considering we all know this to be true… Why in blazes do we all look to the party politicians to fix the political state of the country? Shouldn’t we be using the energy we use to escualidinizarnos with these crooks to think of and work on alternatives?

    Just a thought. Are we democrats, or are we just reactionaries? What are we fighting for at this point?

        • It would be ironic that the shortsightedness of political parties and the endless pursuit of a local patronage network as the life goal of any Venezuelan politician que se respete make the opposition lose what was previously a lock.

          • I think that’s exactly what happened in Zulia, Carabobo and Nueva Esparta, and the lesson hasn’t been learned by MUD. I hope we don’t lose Maracaibo or El Hatillo, because even if we lost them I don’t think MUD would get the memo: Stop politickering and start working, que aquí ya no estamos para sus güevonadas (untranslatable).

          • It is absolutely impossible for the opposition to lose el hatillo. Even if all 4 mud candidates get the same fraction of the more than 80% of support the opposition has they would still beat chavismo. I wouldn’t make a big deal out of it. Who knows, it might even stimulate turnout

          • I thought there were 5 opposition candidates. The ones mentioned above and a Bernard Faucher, I think that’s his name, from Opina; which even though no longer supports the MUD, I don’t think it’s pro-government.

          • Charlie,

            You’re right, there’s another candidate. I don’t think Faucher has much of a chance, though. I’m just saying that the chances of none of the MUD candidates to reach more than 20% is very, very low

          • You should read what Alexander von Humboldt wrote 200 years ago. He wished Venezuelans would do what you just wrote…just change “opposition” with “the people”

  6. geha: how do you know that El Hatillo is “a Middle Class municipality with a healthy tax base?” Correct me if I am wrong, but I think you should qualify this statement a bit. My understanding is that this tax base remains largely untapped and that indeed one of the problems of running El Hatillo is the limited fiscal income. Especially since it is mostly residential and not so much commercial/industrial.

    • I agree with you, El Hatillo derecho de frente and such isn’t a big fiscal income for the municipality, not many offices and just a couple of malls is what constitute their rather small tax base… What I believe makes El Hatillo so likeable and competitive is shadier: zonificación. El Hatillo is probably the municipality with more green areas to be developed in the close future, and we all know who gets his share when a cheap, underdeveloped, mountainous allotment gets a residential/commercial zoning changed.

      • And the game is AD+PJ+ProVe+PSUV put a zoning guiso in one period, then those parties change candidates, then the new candidates disown the guiso, then one gets elected, then a new zoning guiso is put forth. Wash, rinse, repeat.

  7. D’Agostino is married to AD’s General Secretary Henry Ramos Allup and his brother is Francisco D’Agostino. I rest my case, your honor.

  8. Let’s not forget the very regrettable kinda homophobic comments Sayegh said in an interview around a year ago. Something that, as a mayoral candidate, he probably had zero place talking about it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33oC8iHOnts

    Anyways, I think Sayegh seems too shady, this whole road work affair is taking attributions that he does not have as a candidate. If campaings worked like that then we would have a perfect infrastructure in the country, with all the elections we had so far. I really hope he fails and that the Hatillanos do not answer to his populism.

  9. And reluctance to debate strikes again!

    That or people at Teatrex have never had the problem of dealing with large groups of people from El Hatillo, or organizing events where a few people speak on stage and a larger group of people listen to them and cheer. Somehow they also found it impossible to just record a debate without audience and then post in youtube, because surely the barriers of entry to post a youtube video are to high for 5 different PAC and a theater company to figure out.

  10. I love El Hatillo, one of the few municipalities where the opposition can be split in 4 candidates, yet the chavista candidate would never dream to win anyway. Also, the battle of the polls is hilarious to watch, the main 3 candidates attribute themselves the victory.


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