In Tachira, the Cordiality of the Damned

Many candidates, zero enthusiasm — in Táchira even the hardcore opposition is rolling its eyes at MUD’s primary.

When the news broke, back in August, that the National Electoral Council (CNE) would finally hold long-overdue Governor’s elections, I didn’t know how to feel about it. Days earlier, CNE had conjured over a million votes out of thin air, it seemed we should maybe have a grown-up conversation about this. But then Henry Ramos Allup pre-empted the whole discussion, announcing Acción Democrática was going to take part in the vote come what may. MUD really needed to have an adult conversation about this.

Picando adelante, Ramos Allup ended the discussion before it could even begin: he grasped perfectly that if one party went to the vote, the others would be forced to follow suit. That more or less guaranteed we’ll get screwed in terms of voting conditions. It doesn’t matter how we feel about it: the decision’s been made.

In Táchira, the glorious state I call home, opposition figures signed up as candidates faster than you can say “inhabilitación”. Using stand-in candidates (planned to be substituted for the real candidates later on), MUD’s biggest parties secured a spot on the tarjetón electoral, the infamous ballot. That there would be the primaries to select the eventual nominee was clear from the get go: every candidate signed the “Agreement of Cordiality” (a wink to San Cristóbal’s “City of Cordiality” motto) pledging to abide by primary results and refrain from running as third party candidates.

So, how is the noble state of Táchira gearing up for the fiesta democrática that will be the primary?

I asked my long time super opposition friend —a public employee under current Governor Vielma Mora’s administration— and he sounded angry, saying: “I’m not going to vote, I don’t think it will be of any use.”


“I hate my job but I don’t think participating in rigged Governor’s elections will do me any good, much less voting in some primary.” Ouch.

It’s not that people don’t know who the candidates are —they do! There are some big names out there.

Every candidate signed the “Agreement of Cordiality” pledging to abide by primary results and refrain from running as third party candidates.

Primero Justicia is running none other than Juan Requesens — the Capriles Mini-Me lawmaker who actively participated in pre-ANC protests movement and got injured by colectivos at a rally, then got thrown into a gutter by the National Guard during another protest. This is a guy who likes to hang out at the spot for the best pastelitos in town. We all know him.

Then there’s Voluntad Popular’s (VP) candidate: The current Mayor of San Cristóbal, Táchira’s capital, Patricia de Ceballos. Wife to political prisoner Daniel Ceballos, she went to my high school, we all know her too.

As for Acción Democrática’s (AD) candidate? every adeco I asked knows her name: Lawmaker Laidy Gómez. It doesn’t come as a surprise, Adecos gonna Adeco.

The rest of the candidates: City of Michelena’s Mayor Fernando Andrade Roa (COPEI, UNT), former lawmaker, RCTV journalist and current president of Capitolio TV, Miguel Ángel Rodríguez (AP, Causa R) and Córdoba Mayor, Virginia Vivas (IPP), who got disqualified from the process for not complying with her share of money to finance the election (as she had previously agreed on doing).

My friends’ and family’s voting intention is clear: none of the above. They feel disappointed by MUD’s leaders, and this is opposition voto duro people we’re talking about. Some of these people even ignored the plan to boycott the legislative election back in 2005 and went to vote anyway.

As for the electoral atmosphere in town? There’s a lot of campaigning going on, the old fashioned kind: trucks kitted out with speakers tour the streets blasting messages of support to their candidates, asking people for their vote. Radio slots, posters, photos with old ladies and kissed babies abound on social media. You name it, they’re doing it.

These people really want our vote, but the excitement’s just not there. The air in the city is heavy with discontent and despair.  

As far as Chavismo is concerned, MUD’s got nothing on them. The much despised incumbent, José Vielma Mora (who is up for re-election) still has the best campaign strategy: promising to actually solve some problems. He said he’s the only one who can make the usual, kilometer-long lines at gas station’s disappear. And —whaddayaknow!— those lines disappeared a week ago: gas for everyone.

Right under your nose MUD.

Everything always happens right under your nose, MUD.

Astrid Cantor

Head of the Church of Martha Stewart: I bake therefore I am. Táchirense: Almojabana and quesadilla lover, "toche" and "juemadre" user. Pastelitos de queso con bocadillo fanatic and overall gochadas supporter. Also doctor —as in proper MD— and pobresora universitaria too.