Photo: Gabriel Méndez

“They tell me, ‘Mommy, please, I’m hungry, I want to eat.’ I voted swearing at the government.”

Those are the words of July Castellano, a 40-year-old mother of five who unwillingly voted in last year’s regional elections, fearing the government-subsidized food her family needs to eat once a day would be taken away if she abstained. Hers is one of the many stories Ryan Dube, Kejal Vyas and good old Anatoly Kumarnaev tell in their most recent piece for the Wall Street Journal.

The government buys votes by taking advantage of a famished country, and the magnitude of this sick bargain is horrifying. With only some 15% of the population living above poverty line, and over 60% in extreme poverty, the food subsidies, which more than 12 million Venezuelans benefit from, are a key factor to consider before even thinking about voting against Nicolás Maduro.

Hunger is Maduro’s last (and arguably most powerful) weapon to “win” an election with a 13,000% yearly inflation, and a near 20% GDP drop.

“Food is an enormously powerful weapon in a country where babies die of malnutrition, store shelves are often bare and three-quarters of the population has lost an average of 19 pounds. The grants to millions of poverty-stricken voters might very well ensure his leftist movement runs this country for many years to come.”

It’s not like Maduro needs more votes than any other candidate — Tibisay will have no problem changing numbers — yet this is a reality that we must fully and openly acknowledge to understand how, contrary to common sense, chavismo can still get a couple million votes, with almost 80% of the country against it.

People hate Maduro, but many will support him for fear, or hopelessness. Many advocates of next May’s elections don’t seem to consider that.

The power of Mr. Maduro’s electoral machine has discouraged opposition supporters such as Larry Segovia, 36, who lives in Santa Lucía. Worn out from juggling his crumbling accounting business, Mr. Segovia said he’s now thinking of backing the government as he watches his pro-Socialist neighbors get food and other perks.

“If you can’t beat them you might as well join them, just to be able to take advantage of something,” he said from his cramped office. “How are you going to fight against that elephant?”

Just thinking about millions of people voting for their executioner, in exchange for the little crumbs a bankrupted government can still afford makes me sick to my stomach, but mine is a stomach I still can afford to fill with food by myself.

Thus, the government has made sure that people understand it will all be taken away if they fail to support the Revolution.

“The so-called Fatherland Card, using technology from Chinese telecom giant ZTE Corp., allows the government to keep track of who has voted. That allows officials to put pressure on food recipients if they are reluctant to cast a ballot, according to election experts, government critics and ruling party activists.

By law, the vote is supposed to be secret. But at voting centers in the capital, Caracas, and the westernmost state of Zulia during the December municipal elections, it was easy to see how the ruling party worked the levers of government to ensure that likely supporters made it to the polls. In a giant red tent, Socialist activists scanned voters’ Fatherland Cards. Using a computerized database, they could determine who hadn’t voted and what benefits those people receive. Government supporters called “patrollers” were then dispatched on motorbikes to the homes of food recipients to remind them of the benefits and convince them to turn out, according to a local ruling-party official.

If that isn’t enough, there is also the practice of “assisted voting” in some polling places, according to several people who monitor voting stations. They say ruling-party supporters sometimes physically help voters cast ballots.”

The prohibition of these red tents was one of the guarantees demanded by MUD parties in the infamous Santo Domingo talks earlier this year, a subject ignored in the final document signed by Henri Falcón three weeks ago.

With a government willing to starve its country and an opposition presenting little to no alternative, an electoral resolution to the Venezuelan crisis seems deader than ever, no matter what Henri Falcón and his advisers say.

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  1. “The government buys votes by taking advantage of a famished country, and the magnitude of this sick bargain is horrifying.”

    So why do you insist on dignifying the spineless criminals by calling them “The Government”? When you have perfectly valid words that are way more accurate, with the correct connotations? Such as Tyranny, Genocidal Dictatorship, Kleptocracy (the most accurate depiction in one word), Desgobierno, perfectly valid in Spanish, Misrule or Misruling Thugs in English, Totalitarian Regime, or just ‘Chavismo’ which is bad enough by now.

    Why doesn’t the so-called “opposition’, “anti-chavista” media utilize the correct terms when describing or referring to Kleptozuela’s Criminal Regime? They don’t understand that by using the usual ‘puteado’ verbiage, such as “El Gobielno Nasional Bolivariano” they are reinforcing, validating an illegal bunch of thugs. Ignorant people like those described in this post, i.e. most remaining Venezuelans, are easily persuaded that the mighty “Gobielno Nacional” has to be obeyed, that they must beg for food and vote for them, Cuban style. “Las Autoridades del Gobierno Bolivariano Revolucionario determinaron que los alimentos del pueblo seran repartidos…” and shit like that.

    The only one who calls them for what they are is MCM, “Narco-Dictadura, Tirania, Criminales, etc.
    So good work there, “opposition” people and “opposition” media. Your sloppiness and lack of accuracy with words keep reinforcing people’s fears and tragic servitude in today’s Narco Kleptozuela.

    • If we understand that a Government is the group of people that exercises the Executive Power within a State, it’s clear that chavismo is actually a government. Now, you can have a democratic government or an authoritarian-dictatorial one, they both fall into the concept. Chavismo is a form of the latter, but sadly, still is the government currently running the Venezuelan State.

      • JC, you are technically correct, but wouldn’t it be good for the country if the “opposition” actually acted like one? Play the same propaganda game as chavismo? This is one problem of this blog these days.. sad but true stories, but like the mud no real fight left in you, no solutions, not even one recommendation, no biting criticism of the dictatorship (ooh, did you see what I just did there?)!

    • On the subject of terminology, you might want to rethink your use of the term “genocidal” in your daily cut and pasted word salad of what I presume is intended to pass as genuine outrage. May I suggest “homicidal tyranny” instead?

  2. One CLAP box so far this year here in this pueblo, ONE. I’m betting there’s going to be some eager Maduro supporters by the time the “election” rolls around.

  3. So the tyrant rests his boot on the people. But if I were the tyrant I would not sleep comfortably. Intimidation does not assure stability, instead it is a combustible reality.

    I wish to think that it is very hard to keep this situation on a people that just a few years tasted better. Cuba, DPRK were shitholes that stayed shitholes with a new tyrant in place. Venezuela just ended the biggest consumption boom ever seen in its history, and now the government turns around and says “be patient, its la guerra economica, but we are winning”??!! Even the opportunistic Chavista sees through that lie.

  4. “Hunger is Maduro’s last (and arguably most powerful) weapon to “win” an election with a 13,000% yearly inflation, and a near 20% GDP drop.”

    No it isn’t. TibiBitch’s corrupt CNE would suffice to steal any ‘election’ in Kleptozuela. And if that weren’t enough, just ask the diabolical Rodriguez brothers to play a little with the Fraudmatic Smartmatic machines that Chavez’s created a decade ago. (After they owners just admitted over a Million votes in Fraud, se desaparecieron con sus 90$ Millones, y se lavaron las manos de ese peo).

    Hunger, massive ignorance and fear will get votes, sure, and plenty of “Calnes de la Patria”.. But with no real, popular candidates participating (Leopoldo, Capriles, MCM..) Heck, they might have to tweak the Fraudmatic machines to GIVE the hated Falson chameleon some votes to make Nicolasnos “victory” look more “democratic”. So that’s the second strike of this good post. The topic itself is important: Votes for Food. But it should have been “Votes for Food, Chavismo’s Tyrannical strategy, Subjugate and enslave a hungry, ignorant and scared population”.

    Good info. about Chinese telecom giant ZTE Corp. Added to Smartmatic, las ratas chavistoides estan blindadas, atornilladas en el poder. I wonder how effective this Data-Mining technology can be. It should be investigated by the “opposition”, for future reference to the illegality of the Tyrannical Narco-Regime and its bogus Asamblea Nacional Prostituyente. Hopefully the DEA, the CIA, Pompeo, Macri and Macron are taking notes when considering further economic sanctions, and ultimately a few choppers in the night.

  5. “One CLAP box so far this year here in this pueblo, ONE.”

    What would happen if the US does decide to shut down the oil cash, and convinces India to do the same? That would cut off the only legal $55 M/day the Narco-Tyranny gets, with zero credit left. I suspect the enormous drug trade cash would not be enough to continue bribing the entire military, plus millions of enchufados, AND pay Brasil/Mexico in cash for the Clapcrap.. the shit would really hit the fan then.

    • That’s why they’re sending to shit the military to replace it with the colectivos who’re paid with the food they’re keeping out of the people’s reach so they can manage the bachaquero mafias.

      chavismo’s ultimate weapon to control the people isn’t hunger, it’s BULLETS.

  6. This is the government (Chavismo) that the population voted for. They knew full well that Chavismo was a fraudulent and corrupt, yet they voted for it over and over, because it would give them free shit in exchange for their vote.

    Now, the wheels are coming off, and the train is jumping the tracks… and still they are willing to vote for the fraudulent and corrupt Chavismo, providing they get their pathetic table scraps.

    THIS is the reason the US military should never intervene in Venezuela. 20-33% of Venezuelans are perfectly happy with the shit-storm that Chavismo has brought them. WHY SHOULD A SINGLE US SOLDIER DIE FOR A POPULATION WHO IS CONTENT TO LIVE UNDER THE BOOT HEEL OF A TYRANT?

    My wife is right*. Venezuela is getting what it deserves.

    *She’s usually right… if I know whats best for me.

    • No, ElGuapo, she’s ALWAYS right, learn that, live that.

      As the saying goes, a woman can’t make you do what she wants, but she sure can make you wish you had.

      • @ MRubio…very wise advice indeed! It is a basic life lesson learned the earlier the better. We have a similar saying here: ” If Mama is not happy then nobody is happy”. Lol

      • Initially I had it “She’s always right…” but I changed it at the last minute. Usually is the better word for her. Sometimes her temper gets the best of her. (I’m thinking of a recent incident that I am too afraid to share!)

        I’m the calm one in our marriage. The Ying to her Yang. I learned many years ago to pick carefully my battles with her… especially how much money she spends on heels and “maintenance”… (I’m not sure I remember what her hair color was when we met. I think it was blackish?)

      • Another variation (not limited to marriages): “Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?”

        • Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness! Words to live by…the liberty thing can sometimes fade a little while in pursuit of a happy marriage though. My wife is not Venezuelan…she grew up in Medellin, Colombia and, like El Guapo’s wife, has a temper! Lol.

    • ElGaupo,
      “It was the Venezuelans choice, let them face the consequences of their decision” is what should happen. Venezuela has become this century’s prime example of how socialism destroys a country. Left-Wing celebrities and politicans (Sanders, Clinton, Obama, Jeremy Corbyn, etc) shut up when Venezuela is mentioned. Let the mess continue as lesson for the world.

      However, these are people facing human rights violations, starvation, lack of medical care, crime, no freedom of speech, unfair voting, etc. We must show compassion. Moreover, Venezuela has become a haven for Hezbollah, North Korea, Iran, and other evil groups. Cuba controls every detail in Venezuela and the Cubans are looking elsewhere for countries to control; they must be stopped. The U.S. must intervene for humanity and our own safety.

      • From what perspective are you speaking when you say “our own safety”? Are you a US citizen or a Venezuelan?

        From the US citizen perspective, it isn’t our duty (as US citizens) to save every pathetic “sob story” from their own stupidity. Chavistas might by hungry and sick, but they still love Saint Hugo, and if Maduro were still able to keep them well stocked with CLAP boxes, they would be only too happy to vote for him again. That is the sad truth. Because of this truth, I don’t feel that the US citizen should feel obligated to swoop in and save the day.

        I think there is a learning moment here for these Marxist haters of achievement and success.

        I think that a couple hundred thousand of these Chavista faithful need to see what REAL hunger, sickness and deprivation is like. A couple of close family members starving to death, or dying of easily preventable disease might clear their Marxist brains of a few cobwebs.

        I think that the blood of colectivos needs to run red in the streets, the result of pitched battles between them and El Pueblo. There needs to be red-on-red wholesale violence before I believe there is a change in the Chavista mindset.

        I’m not hopeful. Some of what I have read online suggests that most of the faithful will take their last breath, having seen their entire family starved to death, and say, “Viva Chavez!” before succumbing.

        • ElGuapo,
          I am a U.S citizen but for over 35 years I have had family in Venezuela. I personally met Chavez in 2001 in Washington DC. He was strongly charismatic and seemed to know what words to say– this made me extremely wary of his goals (not the country of Venezuela’s goals).

          In any event, a key factor in Venezuela’s recovery is to destroy Chavez image. Chavez must be publicly held responsible for all of Venezuela’s problems. Throw his corpse into the deepest sea and send his family with him.

          Still, the US must show compassion. Anything else plays into Maduro’s hands.

          • I am all about the compassion. I have two adopted girls (Honduras, Sudan), both abandoned as children due to birth defects. So the horror that is occurring in VZ isn’t something that I am ignorant of. I still don’t think its our duty to save Venezuela from its own willful stupidity. There are still far too many Venezuelans who venerate Saint Hugo. I read about them daily. They happily vote accordingly.

            What plays into Maduro’s hands is a US invasion. He would LOVE that, as it would absolve him, Saint Hugo and Karl Marx from responsibility for the disaster that is Venezuela.

            What MUST occur before any US intervention is that El Pueblo has to throw Chavismo and its water carriers under the bus. There must not be ANY “fond memories” of the glories of Chavez. When there are pitched battles in the streets between colectivos and El Pueblo, then you will know the end is near.

  7. “…fearing the government-subsidized food her family needs to eat once a day would be taken away if she abstained…”

    And the so-called opposition has NEVER told these folks that the food WILL eventually be taken away ANYWAY just to keep the bachaquero-colectivo mafias pleased, because at the end, said malandros will be the line of defense of the regime when push comes to shove.

    And yes, I know that from witnessing how the starving people in the zone where I live are now presented with the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” choice of forsaking the 8Kg-carbs-plus-4Kg-grains-plus-one-other-really-expensive-thing-box to be replaced with a bag that contains only half of the carbs at a whooping 1460% more expensive cost.

    I could afford for some more time the food that’s not in the “magic box” (That means letting my pockets be ripped off the bachaquero monopoly mafias), but I feel really wrong for those folks who are this close of tearing rotting animals apart just to lick any remains from the carcasses.

  8. WFP has reached 829,400 Rohingya refugees with food assistance. Rations have been increased from the seventh round to 30kg rice, 9kg lentils and 3 litres of vegetable oil to provide 2,100 kilocalories per person per day. Families with 1 to 3 members now receive rations once a month, households with 4 to 7 members twice a month and households with over 8 members receive two rounds of double rations per month.

  9. This is one problem of this blog these days.. sad but true stories, but like the mud no real fight left in you…

    CC is the main source for information on the ground for us with family still in Venezuela.
    But at some time I would hope CC takes a more proactive role, transitioning from reporting and political evaluations, to investigative journalism aimed at chronicling EXACTLY what is going on with the very people who are driving this train, starting with foreign bank accounts, family members living large and abroad, intrigues within Chavismo, all the specifics that show the real lay of the land. My sense of why that is not happening is parallel to why maintenance is usually neglected in Venezuela – it requires follow up and staying the course, and real work, rather then just dealing with the day to day. Not to knock CC. But to become an actual force and vehicle of change, we need specifics that can get the rats jumping. The notion that CC has no contacts or an inside track to the military, the NG, the Chavistas themselves is not believable. Working contacts for the truth involves more than simply reporting current events and rendering judgement of same.

      • Yup, if you pay for it.. is that in cryptocoin, $’s, euro’s, t-shirts, b’s, or Bfs or BS? That will help Venezuela out of this mess…

        You do know there are hundreds, thousands trying to help family, friends and colleagues out of this disaster.. with cash, jobs, seed, parts, medicine, etc. but we need leaders. At one time that was CC, one of the strongest, loudest critics of what was becoming of chavez’s “revolution “.. now it is becoming another guiso, with no intention of leading anyone.. because that ends the guiso. So no more $ here until the editor starts to lead again, or step down.

  10. this has been going for years, they just cheapen it each year. Threatening your employment if you worked for the government (making people think they knew who you voted for, which was false) or threatening them with their house (if they had government housing, as chavismo make sure to not give the residents ownership of the houses), or promising linea blanca or a house, and so on. Chavismo has played this game a long time, and each time it gets cheaper.

  11. Hola Juan Carlos:

    I understand your need to survive by way of a paying site – business is business and only the pueblo gets something for nothing. But lest that intel – if it’s there – is open to public consumption, only those in the know will ever read about it. That’s the rub and I have no idea what the fix is.

  12. JC, it’s not just the CLAP receivers, its the millions other Misiones recipients, plus 5 million Government all-levels employees/families who are coerced via El Carnet De La Patria into voting, at the risk of losing their freebies, though probably, even so, only a few million will really vote, with another 5 million non-registered/”voting” voters ballot-stuffed to make the Govt. goal of at least 8mm+ total for NM.

  13. This article is a good example of why the Falcon campaign needs the people to believe that they will get a bigger slice of the pie if Maduro is out of office.
    I keep repeating myself but I am dumbfounded that this message is not being put forth by every person of influence that opposes the Maduro regime.
    There is a culture in Venezuela of getting something for nothing. People supported Chavez because he not only bought their vote with various welfare programs, he made them believe that they were getting a little more than the political opponents of Chavismo.
    The opposition knows that Maduro is going to be declared the winner in the upcoming election. The regime has gifted the opposition with the ability to know the future. They need to capitalize on this knowledge and use it to their advantage.
    I think Falcon is a scumbag. However Falcon is the most viable opponent to Maduro and almost certainly would win against him. I didn’t say Falcon would win in a free and fair election. If that were to occur, the excluded candidates and parties should be allowed to participate in the electoral process.
    The people that will vote for Maduro because they fear losing the scraps that that they barely exist on, need to be convinced that they will benefit greatly once Maduro is out of power. This message needs to be repeated by every member of the MUD, preached in every church, taught in every college, headlined in every opposition media outlet and anywhere else possible, until the people are no longer afraid to oppose the regime. Supporting Falcon must be part of that message.
    The people that are coerced into voting for Maduro, will not feel cheated when his victory is announced. This is why generating the support for Falcon is critical to creating the outrage the people need to experience when they feel the regime has stolen their future standard of living. Think of it as winding a spring tighter and tighter and releasing all of the energy when the fraudulent election results are announced.
    This is the only way that the election can work to change Venezuela.

    • Hey John, I am 100% boycott this shit and we all should be.

      However, if a “fair election” actually occurred with the clowns who are presently running: Bertucci is drawing larger crowds than Falson, is the best organized and is far more intelligent and a better speaker than either falson or maburro. I see far more facebook posts on Bertucci than anything else and have evangelical friends who have fallen for the trap.

      Plus how would the religious right in the USA think about Bertucci being the next president of Kleptozuela? Evangelicals will think this is a miracle or something… Interesting scenario. Maybe the Chavistas are more clever than we think.

      • A fair election isn’t just impossible because the votes are rigged and certain candidates are barred.

        It’s impossible because EVERY candidate has to keep promising “free” shit. Fuck, even Leopoldo is going this route.

        • I completely agree that the election is rigged. The election itself has been called by an illegal ANC and has excluded many candidates.
          The results of the election shouldn’t be recognized. That does not mean that the opposition can’t use the process to their advantage. That is the point of my comment. The people need to be outraged when Maduro is declared the winner. The muted reaction to the fraudulent ANC must not be allowed to happen again.
          The Venezuelan condition seems to be based on getting something for nothing.
          This is why I support promising the people every free thing imaginable. Any promises the regime counters with can simply be rebuked with where is it now?
          I don’t agree with this activity in the larger picture of how a democracy should function. History shows that this is how democracy is destroyed, not strengthened.
          The opposition needs to look at the election as an avenue to remove Maduro and restore democracy. Not as an election to install a new President.
          The people that are afraid of losing the scraps that they now receive from the regime, need to be convinced that there will be more “free shit” once Maduro is gone.
          The regime’s complete control of government, business and society, means that the regime is ultimately responsible for every ill in the country. Everyone that has had the negative experience and suffered during the collapse of the country, needs to be convinced that things will continue to get worse as long as the regime remains in power.
          At the height of our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US was spending about $25 million per hour on the conflict. I would love to see $100 million distributed to buy the election. Whatever it takes short of war is worth not having a military conflict.

          • “The regime’s complete control of government, business and society, means that the regime is ultimately responsible for every ill in the country.”

            That’s true, but the MUD and in general like 95% of all the so-called “opposition leaders” always refused to do that like a vampire fleeing from a holy-water-soaked crucifix covered with garlic, with the PATHETIC excuse that “attacking Chávez, the high-ranking chavistas and their policies would scare away the disgruntled chavista votes”

            I mean, s**t, just look at how many of these “hardcore and radical leaders” were RESPECTING THAT MANURE CALLED “CHAVEZ’S LEGACY” (Ex. Lilian Tintori)

    • John,
      What may seem clear to you is less than clear to many of us.

      First, there is a huge issue of trust. You need to recognise that Falcon was not chosen as a candidate by the opposition. He was chosen as a candidate by the leaders of the regime. He was a fellow-traveller with Chavez at least from 1999 to 2012, in the PSUV and then the pro-Chavez PPT. He crossed the line to the opposition only in 2012 to separate himself from what already looked then like a burning building. He objected vociferously in 2015 to the USA introducing personal sanctions against criminals in the regime. He has also consistently undermined any meaningful pressure on the government by working to end street protests, esp 2014 and 2017, and calling for “dialogue”. He has also indicated just a couple of weeks ago that he would retain Padrino Lopez as Minister of Defense. Given that he was happy to go along with the dismantling of democratic rights and protections at least up to 2012, this is just not the man you would choose to restore democratic order to Venezuela.

      I believe however that your argument is that none of the above matters because the election is already rigged for Maduro to win – you just want a “show”. This brings me to my second point, which is that we do not know whether the election is rigged for Maduro to win or for Falcon to win. If Falcon wins, however, we will then know that Falcon is already both compromised and comprometido. We can expect promise of massive change, negotiation of debt relief and possibly the acceptance of humanitarian aid. However, the same corrupt puppet-masters will still be controlling the strings of a new puppet and nothing will change substantially.

      In these circumstances, the people can vote or not vote – in itself it makes no difference.

      The only thing which would make a real difference in these circumstances would be massive disruption of the voting process itself on a scale which is large enough to be beyond the regime’s ability to control and which induces real fear. Until the leadership starts to feel fear of consequences, it will continue to do whatever the hell it wants to do.

  14. It’s really tough on my wife.

    She hated Chavez from day one. It’s not because she was politically aware. Far from it. She just knew bullshit when she heard it.

    So over the last almost two decades…yes, we’re getting close to that!…she has had to witness this disdain and contempt for Chavismo being transferred to disdain and contempt for the pueblo.

    And it kills her to no end.

    For a long, long time, it’s been impossible to separate the two. So how does one cease defending your people, your culture, your heritage? When it seems to be indefensible?

    That really has to hurt.

    Of course, ex-pat Germans moving to South America after 1945 had no problem with this.

    Never trust a German’s heritage which moved to South America in 1945 and shortly thereafter. Fucking Nazis. ALL of them.

  15. You don’t win an election by calling the people lazy, docile, greedy and weak. But from afar that is how the venezuelan people look.

    • Oh go put some gas in your car and make another lazy, docile contribution to the Chavista repression machine, as you’ve probably been doing for years Bob. And then throw your stones.

      • What the hell are you talking about? Bob made an intelligent, accurate post.

        And you posted nonsense, criticizing his opinion.

        Don’t be a fucking jerk, okay?

        Do you actually think his opinion is less valid than yours? My God.

        You’re fucking Canadian. You’re not even entitled to an opinion.

        • Ira, I’m sorry I interrupted your commiserating with your Venezuelan spouse about how indefensible Venezuelan people, heritage and culture are. Those must be great moments of bonding…she opening up her heart about how bad her people are, you accepting and understanding…and telling her it could be worse, and that at least she’s not a Canadian. Beautiful.


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