May 20 ‘Election’: No Surprises, Lots of Questions

Chavismo once again manipulated the rules of fair and competitive elections. The runner-ups were the only ones surprised, everyone else prepares for what’s next.

Photo: Javier Liendo

Chris Rock has a joke about Vegas tigers going crazy and attacking performers: “That tiger didn’t go crazy, it went tiger.” Crazy would have been for it to act any other way than its nature tells it to.

Well, that same principle applies to chavismo.

The sick thing about the shitshow they performed yesterday is that it’s old as dirt. If we expected Nicolás Maduro to win last night, it’s because at this stage we know exactly what the reds are going to do. A distinguishing feature of chavismo (which is the cult of Hugo Chávez in power and not an actual theory, like Leninism or Maoism) is a double standard about elections.

This goes all the way back to when Hugo was skinny; do you remember where Jacqueline Faría comes from? April 14, 2009, she was directly appointed by Chávez himself as “Chief of Government for the Capital District”, a post that stripped the elected metropolitan mayor, Antonio Ledezma, of all his powers and faculties, effectively rendering the will of the voters null. Two years earlier, El Comandante had a televised temper tantrum because he wanted to be president forever and we said no. He repeated the election despite Constitutional prohibition, winning this time. This is the man who placed Jorge Rodríguez, a sworn enemy of Acción Democrática, at the head to the National Elections Council and then named him his freaking vice-president. During his government, we had the CNE rearranging electoral circuits to make sure PSUV retained power despite the actual votes, and the birth of travesties and abuses that today are expected on any election where chavismo is involved. Barring opposition leaders from public offices wasn’t invented in the Maduro era, y’all.

A distinguishing feature of chavismo (the cult of Hugo Chávez in power and not an actual theory) is a double standard about elections.

Hugo got away with it because he had charisma and huge bags of money that he spent on himself, by the way (this is one of the reasons the nation looks like it does today). Nicolás’ posse lacks these ingredients, though, so it might be uglier and more blatant now, but the script is the same. Manipulating the rules of democracy has always been at the heart of the Revolution. The tiger went tiger.

What we just witnessed, to me, wasn’t an election. It was a council of soviets deciding the line of the party: they could remain Brezhnev, preserve the status quo and keep power despite severe criticism from everyone on the planet, or go Gorbachev, embrace perestroika and present a façade of democracy that’s harder to assault because, after all, “the other guy won.” That’s why the right attitude was not playing ball, because if you call the farce for what it is from the start, then it doesn’t matter if Tibisay Lucena announces a total voters’ tally of eight million people, or five million, or ten, or whatever: this wasn’t an election. Results can’t be recognized.

There ain’t much we can say about Henri Falcón. He joined the major opposition coalition, decided it wasn’t for him and sat down with the government for “negotiations” last year, the protests be damned. We knew his plan was to present chavismo with an attractive way out, convinced that moderation was key. He ran for his perennial governor post in Lara, lost, but took it lightly because his sights were on a bigger prize. What made him think he could be president when the dictatorship kicked him out of Lara beats the hell out of me, but this is a dude who really believed in honor among thieves. He thought he was special and the dictatorship would speak with him on a same-ground basis. Suffice it to say that he got fewer votes than Manuel Rosales in 2006, and the speech in which he rejected the results challenges logic. How can you ask for new, fair elections, when these mobsters just cheated in your face?

If the reds did what they did yesterday, it’s because they don’t give a fuck about the guarantees. They are doing what they’ve always done.

Now, the election idea isn’t his. Henry Ramos Allup has asked for pretty much the same (in December, instead of October), in a proposal that was already agreed on inside the MUD, or Frente Amplio or whatever fairy-tale name they wanna go as now. I understand the general idea: there’s huge economic pressure, almost all governments everywhere reject these results and the only shot chavismo has at legitimacy is in running elections again, this time with normal guarantees. So my question is: how are you going to force the regime to play by the rules? The only way to make it happen is with internal pressure. Nicolás Maduro must be forced to play fair, and you can’t do that without backing from the people here, inside Venezuela, something that will evade the oppo until it proves, with facts, that they’re willing to do whatever it takes to break the dictatorship’s back. If the reds did what they did yesterday, it’s because they don’t give a fuck about the guarantees. They are doing what they’ve always done: fleeing forward and braving the sea, the goal is to retain power no matter the cost.

I now expect, at least, coherence from the international community. If pretty much every country everywhere says they won’t recognize this election’s results because they’re a sham (like Chile, Costa Rica, Panama and the U.S. already did), it means that today, right now, Nicolás Maduro is occupying that chair illegally. You cannot trade with the guy, you cannot play diplomacy with the guy and everything he offers other than resigning his illegitimate post is unacceptable. Diplomatic missions inside Venezuela must be retired and Venezuelan ambassadors everywhere must be expelled. Of course, this means that if the legitimate government is not in the executive branch, it’s in the legislative, so our deputies will have to take the bull by the horns, run some huge risks and provide a leadership that serves the people’s best interests, instead of it being an excuse to make businesses and chill.

You chose this career. Act like you mean it.

Victor Cuotto

Victor usually writes about geek culture and punk music. In 2015, he won the Concurso Venezolano de Literatura Fantástica & Ciencia Ficción SOLSTICIOS. He thinks Magneto makes some valid points.