Chavismo used to have great campaign TV spots. Who can forget Chávez corazón del pueblo, or Uh Ah, Chávez no se va? Catchy, glossy, they made me wanna vote for the trimardito.

But putting out fantastic ads is easy when oil is at $100 a barrel.

This post is about what happens when that same barrel costs $40.

According to the CNE, there are 6,120 candidates running for 537 Asamblea Constituyente posts. Pretty much all except María Bolívar are from PSUV. That means the government is supposed to promote (and finance) the bulk of the candidates to run against each other, with devices like 10-minutes cadenas. Well-made spots, sure, but even with all the resources, things like this happen:

Meet La Mascara, the son of María, and his proposal for CLAP bags. Unknowingly, he admits that state-subsidized groceries don’t always arrive and his whole proposal is based on the fact that the system is so broken, that people can’t get the food the government hands out.

Not every candidate appears in the ads, and for the rest there’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Candidates are supposed to record the spots themselves and send them away. Results are what you might expect.

More than the candidates themselves, what grates is the hundreds of low quality videos promising to make our lives better without telling us how. The Constituent Assembly will change the Constitution to make the government fully totalitarian, but it’s hard to take it seriously when even the spots without candidates look like this:

Yes, that is Winnie the Pooh dancing to the constituyente song, a display I want to think of as an editing mistake, but nope. It’s a deliberate, uh, “artistic technique”.

If I am not making myself clear enough on how unqualified these guys are, let me translate for you the words of a candidate who put his name forward to represent the commerce and banking sector, when asked about the inflation problem. Verbatim:

The infraction, the infraction in Venezuela right now is, is high, but why? Because of the same reason of the, of the… the situation of… of the… the right wing that is… hiking prices, they hike the price for what’s called ‘the salary’ and what’s called ‘food’, and they raise everything and the infraction rises because of that. And the infraction rises, because of that, because it is… it is… the Ven… Vene… er… the ve… uh… the country is in a crisis right now with the government, because they are attacking us even with the oils. Even with oil. We are being attacked even with the… the foreign currency, we are being attacked, that’s why that’s one of the infractions…

There are, of course, big names running for this thing too. Oscar Schemel, CEO of the, quote-unquote, “most reliable pollster in Venezuela”, is one of them (recently, he published a study stating that 54% of the population agrees with changing the constitution) along with former Defense Minister Carmen Meléndez, Eduardo Samán, and the primera combatiente herself, Cilia Flores.

It makes sense for Maduro to spend big bags of cash to make the Constituent Assembly look good they’re imposing it by force—. But still, the awfulness of the campaign makes for a huge contrast with Chavez’ hope and tunes.

This is what they’ve become, a regime that still goes through the motions of simulating looking strong and popular, just about. But barely.

It’s kind of like trying to get to your high state position in the trunk of a car. It makes you look laughable. And if there’s one thing chavismo can’t afford right now it’s being laughed at.

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