Photo: AFP retrieved

To guarantee his hold on power, Nicolás Maduro handed CLAP boxes over to public servants. He sold food combos in Bicentenario supermarkets and tires and supplies to transportation workers, he promised bonuses and gave his biggest smiles. It backfired anyway. With hyperinflation, a serious economic recession, public services collapsed, lots of corruption, oil production plummeting and broken public services, political bribes can hardly work.

The presidente obrero couldn’t inspire the masses. The May 20 results are a clear evidence of this. He didn’t surpass the eight million votes he allegedly got in the National Constituent Assembly election in July 30, 2017, and it’s obvious why.

No Free Meals

For these elections, as in previous ones, the hardest task fell on grassroots and community leaders. Their order was to move at least ten voters each, but with no money to incentivize, people didn’t show up. The infamous “hungry and unemployed, with Maduro I stand” is a bitter mockery now.

“There’s no cash, no food, not transport. That’s why people stayed home, not even the bonuses promised are enough. I hid away from coordinators. I only went out so they could scan my carnet de la patria at the red station, but that was that. Even my son wants to leave the country.”

There’s no cash, no food, not transport. That’s why people stayed home, not even the bonuses promised are enough.

That’s what an UBCh member of El Valle told me. This parish used to be a stronghold of the chavista revolution, but now, communal council and UBCh members also complain about the crisis, food shortages and transport. They’re fleeing the crisis, going to Colombia, Peru and Ecuador.

“(My coordinators) are going to check with us to see why people didn’t vote massively” the UBCh member says, wishing to remain anonymous.

The chavista “hard vote” isn’t so hard anymore.

Under Pressure

It’s well known that the government party has offered even what they don’t have to mobilize supporters. They’ve always used cars, buses, jeeps, motorcycles, constant phone calls, text messages, threatening voice notes on WhatsApp, intimidation about CLAP and medicine handovers, and now, pressure is through the carnet de la patria.

Over 16,000,000 Venezuelans are registered in this system, that the government calls “social protection.” Weeks before the election, in low-income areas, the government apparatus updated the census, asking for family charges and whether they were part of any social program, in case someone was missing their carnet de la patria.

In Antímano, another so-called revolutionary parish, the people in charge of CLAP were tasked to bring in voters, whether chavistas or just citizens who live in the area into the social control network to have guaranteed access to food.

Grassroots were asked to bring not ten, but 30 people to voting stations, and they didn’t.

Calls were made in the afternoon to start the “get out to vote” operation. Grassroots were asked to bring not ten, but 30 people to voting stations, and they didn’t. They didn’t care about the threats made back when the ANC was elected, when they were told food boxes would be taken away and there would be no more housing unit handovers.

Jeeps and motorcycles were also absent on Sunday. The usual deployment failed and the government was left confused and shocked. They didn’t even bring buses like they did for the campaign’s closing event.

“The whole issue with resources opened a rift”  says Carlos Julio Rojas, leader of the Defense Front of Northern Caracas. “There was no mobilization for food, there wasn’t even money for colectivos. They weren’t patrolling voting stations, not even in slums. I think chavistas no longer have the people they claimed to have, now folks protest more for public services and that’s something the government doesn’t know how to solve.”

A Ticking Clock

Chavismo gave fish away and didn’t teach people how to fish.

For last year’s elections, the apparatus still worked in low-income areas because there was still money to ensure support. That’s no longer true.

The chavista machine showed visible signs of strain last May 20. Having no resources means no logistical capacity and, although they won’t say it, perhaps the thing that bothers the government the most is that people in slums aren’t taking it anymore.

Chavismo gave fish away and didn’t teach people how to fish. It’s up to the opposition now to create a consensus and channel dissatisfaction that even so-called chavistas are now demonstrating.

When Maduro won back in 2013, he got 7.5 million votes. This time he got 6.1 million. Looks like the Revolution had people to spare… as long as money came in.

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35 COMMENTS

    • I would say the same thing holds for the 6 Million they say he got for this election. We can’t use CNE numbers to compare anything, they’re all made up.

      • And as I recall, CNE refused to audit results of Maduro’s 1st election. “Nothing to see here, move along…”

  1. No Money, No Votes
    A.K.A. no mun’, no fun. The Mighty Sparrow: No Money, No Love.

    “The whole issue with resources opened a rift” says Carlos Julio Rojas, leader of the Defense Front of Northern Caracas. “There was no mobilization for food, there wasn’t even money for colectivos. They weren’t patrolling voting stations, not even in slums.
    You mean the colectivos hadn’t been doing all that patrolling and intimidating simply out of the love of Chavismo?

  2. What’s it matter now? “Officially” Maduro can do what he wants as he’s king for another 6 years.

    Election day here was an eye-opener for my woman. For the first time in as long as I can remember, we closed shop. The polls are one block to the west of us, the bribe bags were handed out one block to the east. She was amazed at the number of people who normally whine about the government when they’re here at the bodega but were eagerly headed to pick up their bribe bags after casting a vote for Maduro.

    As my buddy who sells vegetables told me the other day, two days worth of food for six years of misery.

    Go figure.

    • Maybe not. If he already ran out of money to bribe voters, and pay the colectivos to keep the slums in line when the bribes didn’t work, it means that all the money he has left is to pay for the police and military. And the way things are going, that’s not going to last long either.

  3. 6 million!?! to paraphrase; “show me the numbers!” The sooner we accept the new paradigm “#Maduro=Dictador” the sooner we can move on….

  4. The fuel for Chavismo has always been paternalism … hand outs. And the hellfire of a revolution, or making the have-nots feel empowered.

    Maduro used the little he has left to buy a few votes but there’s no way to sustain social programs anymore, which hardly needs saying.

    At some time even loyalists will look around at the carnage and say, “This is what Chavismo made. This is there work.” The rhetoric, lies and promises will mean nothing in the face of what is. A failed state.

    Waking up is hard for everyone, especially those in full-flight from reality. As mentioned, the job of the opposition is to make known and mobilize the discontent.

    If Leoplodo Lopez or some other potential leader/savior ever needed to step up, it’s now. There’s no open sendero to a better future. The few options of closing fast. The bottom’s fallen out.

  5. I agree with some the ones above that said this article starts out wrong by assuming that the regimes voting stats are correct. From what I saw, there is no way that 48% of the registered voters voted. What is the point of analyzing false data?

    • This is typical in Vz- instead of filtering press briefings through a sniff test, journalists tend to treat any pronouncement as the verbatim truth. In fact, my frustration with that habit is probably the main reason I stopped getting my Vz news from traditional sources and switched to Caracas Chronicles.

    • Sounds just like Chicago (where Obama is from – and their state governor got convicted for trying to “sell” Obama seat in US Senate. Lot of corruption world wide)

      Excuse me excuse for digressions

      • No, Chicago is not “just like” Venezuela. That would be like comparing a mom and pop grocery store to a multinational corporation. It’s sort of like the Grand Canyon… if you haven’t seen it with your own eyes, you are just not in a position to appreciate the scale of the thing.

        • I know, my mother is from Chicago, And I pleasure to work / live in Anuay, Puerto La Cruz / Jose and Maturin for over six years (I left in 2001). I used work as engineer in oil / gas industry- I got to (had to?) travel too much too. I there’s corruption all over world . Chicago / Illinois politicians happen be oblivious. Rod Blagojevich and three other of the past Governors has ended in up in jail. But there no question about Venezuela (or most of Latin America (except for Chile) being in much more hell corrupt hell holes. I would stop this country (on VZ or for that matter too) yearnings for socialism.

  6. Mabel, you got it all wrong: “People didnt come out and vote, because they did not see others coming out to vote”.

    That simple, Quicos mimetic theory of 20M.

    Your looking into this too much with sound rational analysis Mabel. At the end of the day, nobody got off their ass to the polling station just because they did not see others voting.

  7. Next door neighbor Colombia is voting today. Right now conservative Duque leads with 40 percent and ex-Farc commie Petro has 24 percent .Since neither gained 50 percent of votes there will be a runoff between the two on June 17. No big surprise the commie’s support comes from the poor uneducated voters and the young voters who are not old enough to understand the dangers of embracing socialism/communism. (sound familiar?) My wife is from Medellin and tells me that mainstream Colombia is sick of FARC, ELN, M-19 and everything those Marxist groups represent after decades of conflict and many tens of thousands of deaths.

    • Esposa paisa, bienaventurado usted

      Good to see Duque beating Petro by 15% but Colombia ain’t out of the woods yet. Where will Fajardo’s votes go in the 2nd round? That could be the decider, and there is a much greater than zero chance that Petro wins.

      • Fajardo seems to be positioned much more center left and I would think that the more leftist leaning of his supporters may go to Petro while the centrists may well go to Duque but as far as I can tell nobody seems to have a good feel for that at the moment.
        And yes, the esposa Paisa is always an adventure! Lol.

    • I should have been paying more attention to this.

      But with average Colombians dealing with the VZ problem coming right to their front doors, how is it possible that Duque could lose? What are the dynamics here?

      I understand the poor, uneducated voter aspect of this…every country on earth suffers from this…but why hasn’t the right been able to captalize on them to their own advantage? And although poor might mean uneducated, it doesn’t necessarily mean unaware. And poor doesn’t always mean totally uneducated.

      The radical left is often very educated, but wrongly educated. They substitute the facts for their own opinions and ideology.

      • Latin America has hard time countering the leftist populist siren song(free EVERYTHING), but Colombians had such a bad experience during the 40+ years of FARC, ELN, M19(from whence Petro crawled) that they have been largely inoculated against it.

      • Ira,

        What I have heard from friends in Colombia is that Petro supporters believe connecting him with “castrochavismo” is just a right wing smear campaign. They see him as a Euro-style democratic socialist.

        The Petristas also say that pointing to Venezuela as a warning for Colombia is just a scare tactic, ie “that could NEVER happen here, this is COLOMBIA, not Venezuela”

        I’m as baffled as you are on this one. My response has been “Well, since there are now 500,000 Venezuelan refugees living among you, it should be easy to find one and ask them how possible it seemed to them years ago that Venezuela could have fallen apart like this. They used to say ‘this is VENEZUELA, not Cuba…’”

        Petro is a danger to Colombia. Friendly to chavismo, and has said that his 1st act as president would be to suspend congress and call for a constituyente to re-write the constitution. Seems to me that should be an automatic disqualifier but few Colombians at the grass roots level are familiar with that abomination of the same name in Venezuela.

        Again the question now is what happens to the Fajardo votes in the 2nd round…

    • Tom, ask your wife if she thinks the M-19 and FARC should be compared? My experience in Colombia says not. This is not to say that I would support Petro, (great name considering) only that members of M-19 are far more respected. Just look how Union Patriotica did, or whatever they are calling themselves now,

      • @ waltz…well, it seems she does not hold either of them in high regard. When I asked if she thought M-19 was more respected in Colombia than FARC she told me to go ask the families of the dead at the Palace of Justice if they feel respect for M-19. …….that brought the conversation to an abrupt end. I probably won’t bring it up again! Lol

  8. It’s….you are correct of course. There are many on the radical left who are very educated. I was just saying that the message that Petro and others of his ilk puts out there is most appealing to poor uneducated people and you are right that not all poor people are uneducated. It is also appealing to many young voters who have not learned that all the promised “free stuff” is not really free. We have seen that same message from people like Bernie Sanders gain some traction among young voters here in the U.S as well.
    Duque,the conservative, is of course pounding home the message that voters need only look to the east to see what a radical left regime would bring to Colombia and so far it seems to be working.

    • Yeah, and it seems to be the same old theme:

      THEY didn’t do Socialism right, but WE will.

      And people keep falling for that again and again.

    • And don’t get me started on Sanders. It was a real eye-opener for me how this clueless communist (I won’t even call him a socialist) got so far in the Democrat primaries.

      And was only bumped off, through political shenanigans, by Hillary, who is hardly any better.

      Left wing libs have to promise everything at no cost to everyone. We’ll just take the money from the “rich” and give it to you.

      Talk about buying votes! With no capacity to PAY for those promises!

  9. @Ira…one difference in Colombia is that many people are aware of the beast that lies at the heart of communism because of the decades of conflict with the various guerrilla
    groups. Most mainstream colombianos are not willing to put their trust in these guys. But that’s just my opinion.

    • I have 6 VZ ex-pat family members in Miami now, here about two years.

      And today p, my wife tells me, we can expect at least another 6 as soon as they can all get their fucking passports. I have no idea what the situation is at the U.S. consulate now regarding visas.

      I do know that as much as my wife hated/hates Trump, she just doesn’t understand that Trump is the Venezuelans’ best friend:

      After they get their “tourist” visa, they’re just about guaranteed to have their asylum requests approved, like any Cuban trying to emigrate here.

  10. No money, NO BULLETS TO SLAUGHTER THE PEOPLE.

    The time to take over the whole country and oust the regime is coming.

    • Bet Diosdados blood is boiling now that they released his special prisoner. Word is the us has extended a invitation to Cilia to visit the nephews. Messenger boy Lacava gets to take a special message back to Maduro that they are willing to deal but guess who has to go.

  11. Mabel, as many above said, accepting Govt. voting figures for NM is useless, same for hoping an Oppo candidate can galvanize Pueblo discontent into a successful election win in a Rogue Failed State-controlled electoral system, same for believing in 16mm Carnet De La Patria enrollees (even 8mm probably an over-exaggeration).

  12. You realize that by using CNE voting count, 6,1 million votes, you’re validating this poor sham of election. Maduro didn’t get that amount, not even close. Even people from inside the company who sold the voting machines, and handled the counts, has come to say so. Neither he got 7.1 millions votes six years ago! So, knowing the back story of all the improprieties and fraude committed by the CNE, is sorprising you’re using those incorrect numbers. Now, had you used “allegedly” I may had understand your logic better. When that lie its repited, even casual ly, they win again. Words, intentions and contents matters.

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