Polls vs. chavismo vs. guarimbas vs. naysayers

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    Scarano stands by her man
    Scarano stands by her man

    Today, two by-elections were held in the cities of San Cristóbal and San Diego.

    In both cities, the opposition mayors – elected a few months ago by huge margins – were indicted and jailed in quickie trials for allegedly not doing enough to stem opposition protests. The MUD coalition quickly decided that the candidates for both posts would be the wives of the jailed mayors.

    In San Diego, a suburb of Valencia, Venezuela’s third-largest city, Rosa de Scarano won with 87% of the vote. A few months ago, her husband had won with 75% of the vote, so Mrs. Scarano improved on her husband’s performance by quite a bit.

    In San Cristóbal, the birthplace and epicenter of the protests, Patricia de Ceballos won with 73% of the vote. In December, her husband won with 67% of the vote, so she too built on her husband’s triumph.

    The results are a resounding victory for the faction inside the MUD who wants to continue participating, in spite of the deck being stacked against us.

    It is a heavy defeat for chavismo. It shows that the government continues losing support, unable to muster its forces even when faced with political neophytes and an opposition that is both financially and physically exhausted. If they were counting on political infighting within the opposition to keep their voters home, they were mistaken.

    It is also a defeat for guarimberos, the faction of the opposition that sees “the street” as the only way to fight the government. San Cristóbal may be the hotbed of protests and barricades, but its citizens went out to vote (participation in both places was above 50%). If these people think that there is no point in voting, that the electoral solution to Venezuela’s crisis is completely closed, then these results should at least force them to polish their arguments.

    Finally, it is a defeat for naysayers, for people who argue that protests work against the opposition by making us lose popularity. Both Ceballos and Scarano were seen as leaders of the protest movement, if not enablers of the barricades. The voters came out and supported them strongly – more than when they were originally elected. Whatever ill feeling there may be between opposition voters and some of the leaders of #LaSalida, it didn’t show in this election.

    Obviously, local issues permeate this election, so one should be careful not to read too much into these results. In spite of that, the victory is a hugely symbolic one.

    1 COMMENT

    1. “It is also a defeat for guarimberos, the faction of the opposition that sees “the street” as the only way to fight the government. San Cristóbal may be the hotbed of protests and barricades, but its citizens went out to vote ”

      Yeah right, sure. It is not like people have become pragmatist and appeal to the doctor and the witch at the same time, following the philosophy of ‘try everything, until something works’

      • ^this!

        Just by guarimbating we do nothing, guarimbas and not voting would be exactly 2005 when we (stupidly) served in silver platter our heads.

        • On the flip side, voting and not guarimbating (I love that sample of spanglish, BTW), got us the April 14 elections. Imagine if back then we had an oppo leadership with the testicular fortitude to actually contemplate the scenario of having to defend the results of the elections at any costs.

          But nope, we got “el tiempo de Dios”.

            • I don’t think so… No major oppo figure defended or promoted guarimbas. People got to do that becasue they were frustated and the oppo politicians failed to lead effecteively so they could channel their discontent properly (into non-violent demonstrations).

      • Who says guarimberos did not summon today to vote?

        Why we always try to see stuff using polarized lens?, everything should be black or white. No place for gray areas.

      • Or, more likely, the philosophy of “I’m going to vote, but if the Chavismo imposes their candidate with their CNE, then is guarimba time”.

        I don’t see it as only the philosophy of “trying until something works”. I see it as an organized movement that turns popular protests into a lot of votes on the ballot box AND and the means to defend said votes. I believe, that with a constant work on protests, even on the “violent” guarimbas, and awareness campaigns, and, bears repeating, organization, the same results can be obtained on the national level.

        • OK, now I get you, but I am more of the philosophy that when a regime with no moral, no decency, no boundaries, and no remorse is in power you have to try everything you can, the real and the mystic included. Guarimbas provided the opportunity to show that votes count when there is massive vocation for a candidate, not the opposite. Now get your gear and I will see you today in Santa Fé.

    2. It bothers me we STILL call these things “victories”.

      Seriously, it really does. What else needs to happen here to make us realize elections wont EVER get rid of chavismo by themselves?. And BTW, i don’t know where people are getting such numbers, Tibi does not release an official bulletin yet.

      Guarimberos were right all along.

      • Official results are in the CNE web page. And yes, next time I will call a victory a defeat, just to keep things interesting.

        • You will have a chance. Maduro already said these women will meet the same fate as their husbands.

          So, give them two months to get jailed and three for a “fiesta democratica” where people will vote for the family’s Golden Retriever, the next of kin

    3. Well what about the acts of the governments putting in jail the mayors , just infuriated (+plus the human rights violations, the violence of the government) and people went and showed uop and vote? ,,,just because they are arrechos due to the abuse? In a way i don’t see how keep seeing the guarimbas as something horrible (maybe a little delusional the salida and magic resignations, and the INSTITUTIONAL Militaries , and watching too much movies like NO)but until everyone get organized ina 3 prong strategy…

    4. “Obviously, local issues permeate this election, so one should be careful not to read too much into these results. In spite of that, the victory is a hugely symbolic one.”

      Too right mate. In San Diego, the chavista candidate had a very poor campaign, just few posters of him through the town (and I didn’t see one with the name “PSUV”, al of them were of the MEP), while the whole city was covered in “Liberen a Scarano” and “Rosa Alcaldesa” posters. San Diego is Scarano property. Those results were absolutely devastating, it almost reached the levels of my parish (San José in Valencia: Capriles 88.66%-Maduro 11.2%).

      • Just the fact that they chose a MEP candidate for San Diego, with mostly MEP symbolism, and no mayor boost from Ameliach, Maduro, Cabello et al, tells me that Chavismo threw this election from the beginning, their game was shaving off the advantage b demotivating voters, but instead they overmotivated voters, so by losing this spots worse than they did in December, they were left with no silver lining.

    5. Sorry, but I also thought that the guarimberos proved victorious with this vote. This is a psychological victory for the opposition. It scares the Chavistas, gives em pause. The vote was lopsided even by CNE standards. Behind closed doors they’ve come to realize that they may have made a major mistake even holding these impromptu elections during an economic crises. Silly of em. Stupid. “Whose bright idea was this anyway?” They may, in fact, be fast approaching the “tipping point” moment when ruling scoundrels suddenly discover that they’ve lost all control. Remember the look on Chavez’s face in 2002 when tens of thousand were outside of Miraflores? “Calm! ….Calm!” Scared? You betcha. Or how about remembering the look on the face of that other ‘Nicolas,’ standing on the balcony with tens of thousands of ‘his’ supporters in a square in Bucharest back in December of 1989? He also had ALL of the political arms under HIS control. It wasn’t enough. Ceausescu suddenly had this look of terror in his eyes/face when he quickly realized that the vast crowd before him had turned against him. He ran from that balcony like a bat out of hell. They caught em though. Killed he and his wife. I wonder what they must be thinking behind closed doors in Miraflores tonight…..?

      • I think some of the comments in aporrea.org reflect your diagnosis. Juan Veroes says “fraude”, his premise, no one can win an election in such a lopsided way. Another, Julio Cesar Colmenares, derides people that could vote for escaulidos and asks for MORE PROPAGANDA as the solution.

        It’s an interesting read inasmuch as reading Ionesco in his “Theather of the Absurd”

    6. “It is also a defeat for guarimberos, the faction of the opposition that sees “the street” as the only way to fight the government.”

      I don’t know about this… when you say that guarimberos lost, who do you mean?

      In my opinion, the current major factions inside the opposition are:

      Talkie Faction: the one that sits with Maduro and supposedly lobbies the US to hold the sanctions, they also swear by the decision to call of the demonstrations on the Maduro-Capriles election. That’s AD, Copei, UNT, PJ, AP, LCR, etc. They bashed #LaSalida as voter-repellant, and here we are, with more votes in the areas that were affected the most. I’d say they were proven wrong.

      #LaSalida faction: They proposed #LaSalida, were unhappy about calling off hte protests in the Maduro-Capriles election adn refused to sit on the table with Maduro. That’s mainly MCM, LL (with VP) and Ledezma (with ABP). More votes after the protests means they DIDN’T shoot the opposition in the foot as the talkies had moaned they would. I’d say they were proven right.

      Guarimba faction: which prominent leader is here? Maria Conchito Alonso’s brother? Who got defeated? I guess the other two factions did a good job convincing guarimberos to vote, but this was more of an spontaneous development derived from the inconsistency of saying the Maduro-Capriles election was stolen and then acquiescing the guy as president, of feeling that country was going down the drain and nobody was doing anything about it.

      • I don’t believe that the brother of Maria Conchito Alonso actually leads anything, since I have heard from several sources that nobody listens to him when he plugs in on Zello.

        But you won’t find many people willing to declare for the guarimbas since is kind of hard to prove being a leader of them without becoming a target for the regime’s thugs.

    7. Any opposition that cannot BOTH get out the vote, and put massive numbers of people in the streets to enforce the popular will as expressed at the ballot box cannot be considered a formidable mass, political force. Indeed, at certain times one or the other form of action comes to the fore.

      And, in any country, the USA included, it is the always the threat to which there is a looming threat of mass street protests and strikes (as well as legal actions and business-class pressures to not-cooperate with the State, etc.) that makes the powers-that-be think twice when tempted to manipulate election results.

      This was Henrique Caprilles’ fatal mistake in the period immediately following the previous neck-and-neck presidential elections. He feared to demonstrate to officialismo, as it puttered around with how to avoid a real recount, the capacity for massive, forceful action, that lay beneath the popular opposition vote.

      This necessity of dual tactics of ballot box plus mass pressure was a reality that the Mexican population understood very well during a series of tampered-with presidential elections in the period of transition from the old, uninterrupted autocratic rule of the PRI. There were always massive opposition demonstrations in cities and long occupations of city halls in rural areas in protest against voting manipulations following rigged elections … until the electoral system was finally restructured and reformed. It was never either-or.

      It seems that, in Venezuela, people of San Cristóbal and San Diego, at least, understand these dual-tactics very well. Juan is right that this is a big embarrassment for chavismo.

      • In 1988 Presidential elections in Mexico, opposition candidate Cuatemoc Cardenas, in similar circumstances to Capriles, also refused to call the people into the streets, despite his conviction (later confirmed) that he had lost the elections because of fraud. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/09/world/ex-president-in-mexico-casts-new-light-on-rigged-1988-election.html

        Cardenas said that he did not want to take responsibility for the repression that would follow. Internally, he told more radical party leaders that the party did not have the communications capacity to control events once started, and that he did not wish a Caracazo-like event to occur because of the long-term consequences to Mexican democracy.

        The government of the PRI, the Party of the Institutional Revolution, hung on to power for twelve more years.

        • Thanks for linking the article. I had not seen that. I have never heard of an admission like that from a world leader, much less one from the PRI.

    8. How about reading things differently, by imprisioning two elected majors, against law, the regime has shown they can do it when they want.

      On a second act, they call for in prompts elections and people resign themselves to go again to a unfair and unfree process. By “winning” on both, they again gain arguments for the aprovechando espacios camp, for the tiempo de Dios es perfecto camp! and people and these oppo groups gain some clout to ask people for some patience waiting for a revocatorio window! for using elections to solve the maduro crisis….

      The regime started with no majors here and ends unin the same position. Have we reali won anything?

        • The (Alca)Parra term in Valencia proves there’s not much of a silver lining in losing a stronghold out of political shortsightedness.

        • Mein Freund Kepler,
          La clave precisamente es esa!!!

          ….no es que hubieramos ganado si no hubieramos participado, ES QUE todo el evento de la encarcelacion ilegal de los alcaldes ELECTOS no debio ser aceptada.

          La clave es que ya antes de ese exabrupto, ambas alcaldias estaban adjudicadas a los ahora presos politicos, y comenzaban sus periodos de gobierno.

          La clave esta en que no podemos seguir aceptando distracciones y latas de humo.

          wow, se cansa uno!

          me explico?

          • Ajá y que hacíamos como muestra de no aceptar la encarcelación de los alcaldes?

            Salir a la calle? Ya había protestas pacíficas y guarimbas.

            Denunciarlo afuera? La denuncia de MCM en la OEA y la destitución de los alcaldes fueron súper cercanas, tendría que validar cual vino primero, pero ya el frente internacional estaba súper avanzado.

            Introducir amparos ante el TSJ? se hizo.

            Campañas de información? Se hizo. Para ese punto los estudiantes estaban haciendo volanteo, twitter estaba en ebullición, y ya Venezuela tenía rato en Conclusiones.

            • como se enfrenta efectivamente a un bully?
              ….no es apaciguandolo, si no mas bien enfrentandolo. (Chamberlain vs.Churchill )

              Hay que entender la naturaleza de la lucha y las implicaciones, naturalmente ser pragmatico con la fuerza con la que se cuenta claro esta.

              Se debe luchar en terminos propios y no en al batallas que nos ponen a pelear (nuevas elecciones en San Diego y San Cristobal )

              Exigamos rendicion de cuentas, Exigamos memoria y cuentas validas, no circos
              Exigamos una respuesta a donde estan los reales? seria. No desviarse en multiples agendas…
              Repetir Mensajes con ejemplos de cuanto cuestan las cosas en otros paises (Educacion, infraestructura, la administracion de Estado, etc….) y demostrar el dolo y la ineficiencia.

              Este regimen es criminal de la A a la Z, pero aun peor, es INCONVENIENTE para los venezolanos y para la nacion.

              Yo creo que no hay interes por parte de muchos grupos de oposicion de hacer verdadera oposicion.

              Estan financiados para aparentar, y no les conviene levantar una consciencia critica que se les devolvera en el momento de ser ellos los nuevos adminsitradores del coroto. Por eso no salimos adelante.

            • No tengo mayores desacuerdos con tu comentario (sobre todo con el tema de la aquellos que se preocupa más de no alebrestar al gobierno que de animar a su base)

              Excepto que no veo el daño en ir a las elecciones y propinarle una derrota inequívoca al Chavismo.
              – Ganamos la elección (1er criterio)
              – Sacamos más votos que la vez pasada (2do criterio)
              – Ellos sacaron menos votos que la vez pasada (3er criterio).
              – Sacamos un porcentaje mayor que la vez pasada (4to criterio).

              El único criterio que se ocurre en el no hubo victoria clara fue haber aumentado la participación significativamente. Pero por lo menos no hubo desmotivación en nuestras filas, con todo lo que se ha resistido durante este tiempo.

    9. Its been historically proven again and again ( there are quite a few academic works dedicated to establishing the fact) that if you smother deep discontent denying it an institutionally effective way to express itself the result is violent street protests,. We of course steeped as we are in the values of liberal democracy want those protest to be peaceful protests but if the anger goes deep enough , if the provocations are constant and savage , there are bound to be people whose response is violent or tinged with violence , because they are humans and cant help it. It may not be convenient or politically correct but they are acting not from deliberate calculation but in an explosion of spontaneous outrage .

      Of course the regime is bound to try and make political capital from this explosion demonizing the opposition and use it to justify a despotic dispproportionate level of repression . but that too carries its political costs for the regime both inside the country and outside it , and on both sides of the conflict the costs have been heavy, My own assesment is that the costs of the regimes repression have been heavier than anyone expected .

      But one of the heaviest cost has not been publicized , the govt is in deep financial straits which require it to take unpopular but necessary measures to steady things ( full devaluation of currency , raising the price of gasoline , reducing subsidies , etc) , the protests by threatening the govts already wavering popularity has forced it to pospone these measures or to make them more timid than might be needed out of fear that they will stoke the fires of opposition outrage even more, gradually contaminating more and more people in its wake . This has a imposed a heavy toll for the govts plans to take measures to keep them financially able to have the resources to maintain their eroding popularity . This may be a wound that now we cant see but which may have a big impact in the future . !! Lets hope it does.!!

      • Correction to the preceding comment , In the last line of the 2nd paragraph please read: My owns assesment is that the costs TO the regime OF ITS repression have been heavier than anyone expected .

    10. Elections won’t work. In Vzla’s disguised neo-dictatorship this only serves as a notice to Maduro and Cabello’s thugs to prepare to Cheat on a bigger scale next time. More dead people and the Chinese will vote again.

      Of course nothing was shown on TV, and remember, most people do not have computers or internet, if they can read at all. This gives the illusion of democracy, internationally, and calms people down a bit, those who still dream fair elections might knock down this totalitarian regime. In that sense, it is another polical victory for the Thugs in power.

        • Primero presión de calle hasta que se fuerce un CNE confiable, elecciones libres y limpias por un lado.
          Poder de fuego y un aparato de justicia que pida cuentas a este régimen forajido y que castigue culpables de crímenes.

          Una sociedad que entienda y comparta estos principios de ley…

          Casi nada!
          o sea….

          • – “Primero presión de calle hasta que se fuerce un CNE confiable […] un aparato de justicia que pida cuentas a este régimen forajido y que castigue culpables de crímenes”

            Esto es lo que está ocurriendo. #LaSalida puso la presión de calle, la Mesa de Diálogo está (dicen ellos) moviendo los nombramientos del CNE y del TSJ, lo cual tiene como objetivo frenar el ventajismo elctoral del gobierno y frenar la impunidad. Hasta aquí, no hay nada nuevo.

            – “Poder de fuego […]”
            Te fuiste. Al Gen. Vivas se le ve súper patriota y todo, pero ya no estamos en los años 60. La insurrección armada no es el camino, ya la comunidad internacional no apoya esas aventuras excepto en casos extremos como Libia (del cual no estamos nada cerca ni queremos acercarnos tampoco).

            • Estimado J. Navarro.
              Me sorprende que el punto mas importante, el de la educacion ciudadana no es comentado por ud.

              Es aca donde somos mas vulnerables. El chavismo lo supo aprovechar y el castrismo lo hipertrofio.

              Somos una sociedad de mendigos, donde quedamos bien siempre y cuando “nos arrojen algo”!

              Desde los grupos de alta vulnerabilidad (probreza y limitada educacion) hasta los complices banqueros y “empresarios” de turno (enchufados) vienen aprovechandose del desencaje del estado; donde no existe un verdadero control social. Somos una sociedad en anomia, y no reaccionamos.

              Por cierto, el caso Venezuela es un caso extremo, solo que AUN no se ha llegado a las fases visibles de hambruna, desorden social, guerra civil, estado fallido, etc. a las que se llegara de seguir como vamos bajo un estado forajido, la invasion externa, y los grupo colaboracionistas internos y externos que aprovechan la coyuntura tanto para beneficios crematisticos particulares y geo estrategicos.

              Tampoco me refiero a rambos de utileria. El desmarque de la FAN es fundamental si hemos de tener alguna esperanza en recuperar la institucionalidad del estado. Esto ha faltado.

            • Tú lo ves como un problema de cultura, yo lo veo como un problema de incentivos. No lo veo como un tema cultural, porque no considero que la cultura Venezolana difiera significativamente de la de nuestros vecinos latinoamericanos, la diferencia principal es que nostros tenemos un país donde, gracias al petróleo, el Estado es tan rico en comparación con los ciudadanos, que puede permitirse funcionar sin cobrar impuestos a la población, la población cae en el tema de “a estado regalado, no se le mira la corrupción/clientelismo/etc”.

              Esa es una de las razones por las que propuestas como UCT, resulta tan atractiva para varios de quienes participamos acá – Sobre todo a extorres. Si la renta petrolera (ingreso petrolero – costo de producción – inversión) se distribuyese de forma equitativa entre los ciudadanos venezolanos, y luego el Estado cobrase impuesto sobre la renta a la gente (sobre el ingreso petrolero y no petrolero), entonces ya dejaríamos de ver todo lo que hace el estado como un regalo, y empezaríamos a verlo como un servicio que estamos pagando y que por lo tanto debe cumplir con nuestras expectativas.

              Visto de una forma menos ambiciosa, el tema de los incentivos se ve reflejado en las distorsiones de la economía. No dura mucho la productividad de un país donde se privilegia la importanción sobre la producción, no dura mucho la ética de trabajo en un país donde los salarios son bajos y los empleados son indespedibles, no dura mucho la cultura de ahorro en un país donde la inflación supera la tasa de interés pasiva y el acceso a otras monedas está restringido, ni dura mucho el interés por ser el mejor en un país donde las cosas se consiguen a través de contactos y no de méritos.

              Veo muy difícil que Venezuela llegue a hambruna, desorden social o estado fallido (Somalia, pues), por varios motivos:
              1) El Estado tiene suficiente ingreso petrolero para dotar decentemente a una fuerza armada.
              2) No es viable que un grupo armado se autosustente en Venezuela a partir del petróleo o de los minerales nacionales, a la usanza de los diamantes de sangre. La droga es una alternativa, pero tendrían que competir con las fuerzas armadas por este mercado y lo harían con una fuerte desventaja jurídica, internacional, armada, estratégica, numérica, presupuestaria, etc.
              3) La comunidad internacional no tiene interés en exacerbar conflictos. Venezuela es suficientemente interesante para se intervenga internacionalemnte a favor de que que se mantenga produciendo, pero como ya está produciendo y vendiendo hay poco interés para cambiar quien controle la extracción.
              4) El exceso de población puede ser exportado a países vecinos. Desgraciadamente se iría la gente más calificada, pero esta es la gente con mayores expectativas y probalidades de protestar. Quienes se queden, al ser más dependientes tienen menor probabilidad de rebelarse.

            • Lo de la educación me suena a lo que venden los comunistas, de que el comunismo funcionaría si tan solo pudiesen educar a toda una nueva generación con sus conceptos. Si la educación se trata de que todos pensemos igual, eso no es democracia. La clave está en crear un *sistema* que funcione a pesar de diferencias educativas.

    11. So, it “was a defeat for the Guarimberos”, but it was also a victory for the Guarimberos, since it was a “defeat for naysayers, for people who argue that protests work against the opposition by making us lose popularity.”=how to argue, have your cake, and eat it, too. The truth is that it was a resounding victory for the Guarimberos–whole populations in San Cristobal and San Diego had been inconvenienced and often held hostage for months by the Guarimbas, and, nevertheless voted resoundedly (87%/73%) for the Opposition for which the Guarimbas were held. I was present in Los Palos Grandes the afternoon after the morning the 150-tent UN student encampment was taken down by the GNB. Wave after wave of GNB/tear gas was launched at the protesters/general population, with people of all ages (including children/seniors) scattering/coughing/running as the gas quickly advanced up to 1 block away each time. I did not see ONE person complaining or criticizing the Guarimbas!

    12. The truth of the matter is that guarimberos and non guarimberos become a single united group when they enter the polling booth !! They just want the regime out , using different tactics but anything that makes the govt lose ground unites them !!

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