Uh! Ah! Chavez no se va!

Taken from Panorama (click link to see
in full)
UPDATED: 15:15 GMT | London 08/10/2012 - Good thing about being a blogger obsessed by any given topic, is that one can go back and revisit what has -in all likelihood- been said previously. In the past few months, I received scolding critiques from friends, family, fellow bloggers and readers alike for my "pessimistic outlook". When I wrote about how futile the whole enterprise of voting would be, even my apolitical wife gave me a bollocking, which resulted in conditioning my stance. When one's opinions run counter to group think's beliefs, ostracism often happens, but that's fine, I'm more than used to that.

My parents in law spent recently a good while here in London with us, which gave me plenty of opportunity to pick their minds about the situation "back in ground zero." That, and copious reading of fellow bloggers posting, did not change my outlook, for I kept thinking that Capriles stood no chance. As usual, much was made about Capriles's campaign, poll results and rallies. To someone who lived campaign, polls and rallies daily for nearly 90 days back in 2006, and who was surprised to have been trounced at the polls, I was not going to fool myself again with "casa por casa", pictures of rallies, hundreds of thousands of people notwithstanding, or sterile debates about pollsters.

What followed to that short period  was a revisit to the issue of electoral fraud, an impossible-to-miss elephant in our Venezuelan room. And so I managed to establish a communication with Roberto Picon, one of the big wigs of Capriles's campaign, alas, despite some extremely worrying admissions to the effect of vote rigging, the brief exchange ended without much clarity as to how exactly was the opposition going to tackle electoral issues this time round.

What did, somewhat, change my perception was one the last campaign speeches of Capriles. I felt identified with his discourse, though remain skeptical about his chances.

Well, the map above leaves no room for much doubt. Hugo Chavez trounced the opposition candidate again. Six years on, Chavez still is the choice of the majority of my countrymen. And that's OK, I don't have a problem with that. The good thing about it is that Henrique Capriles, Leopoldo Lopez, Ramon Guillermo Aveledo et al buried the phantom of electoral fraud in Venezuela. By claiming, repeatedly, that the system had been sufficiently audited, and that the opposition had managed to place witnesses in 100% of voting centres nationwide, there is no room for further entertaining the thought of fraud. As of this writing, no one will be able to seriously question results anywhere, for, according to Lopez, we had all polling stations covered. In Zulia, traditionally an opposition bastion, Chavez trounced Capriles. In Lara, with Henri Falcon, Virgen de la Divina Pastora and all, Chavez managed to beat Capriles. In Caracas, Leopoldo's, MUD's, and Capriles's HQ, Chavez also got the better of the opposition. Mind you, despite obtaining 6,151,544 votes the opposition did worse nationwide, managing to win only 3 states. Ergo our electoral map looks redder than ever.

Again, I want to reiterate that unlike most people in the opposition this morning, my fellow bloggers included, I don't have a problem with that. I am not depressed, sad, or entertaining never to write about my country again. For I never expected a different outcome. Yesterday, the evening had started with a meal with friends and family at home, and when we saw Chavez speaking and answering questions after having voted, I told them, "well, there are two messages in there: first polling stations may not close at 6pm, and second Chavez is going to walk with this thing." My wife woke me in the middle of the night to say "ganó Chavez". My reply was "I know". Few minutes later I tweeted "Uh, ah..."

So here's to the people who voted peacefully, to the volunteers in whichever amount of polling stations, to the MUD leadership, to Henrique Capriles -if you're reading you were not ready mate but it's still early days-, to Leopoldo Lopez -I know you're reading, early days for you too-, to the chavistas who by voting for his candidate contributed to bury the myth of fraud, and to all Venezuelans in general. There's a saying quite apt for this sort of situation: "cada pueblo tiene el gobierno que se merece". That's our reality, it's been smacking us in the face, not since 1998 but since 1811. It's about time to man up, and start dealing with it, both individually and collectively.

UPDATE: check all results of 7 October 2012 presidential race in Venezuela in this CNE link


ok said...

Yes, a 1.3 million vote difference is something that can't be fabricated. Certainly there is always a level of fraud and voter intimidation, but I don't think it was enough to change the result of the election. If it had been, then why didn't the opposition and it's witnesses object the election? So yes, we can agree that Chavez won --more or less-- fair and square.

It would seem that most people who oppose Chávez --politicians and voters-- are incapable of understanding those 7.44 million that do support Chávez "How can they vote for him? How can they support what is happening in this country?", ask many people I know. But I am convinced that until we understand who this people are and how they think, there is no hope of engaging with them and convincing them that they would benefit from another country. Capriles has been closer than any other opposition candidate to achieving that, but obviously it was not enough.

A have a lot of chavista friends --and I'm not talking about bolibourgeois who support Chávez because they are making a killing thanks to the "revolution". I mean people who live in Cotiza and 23 de Enero, and whom I became very close with because we played tambores together every single weekend for more than 10 years. We shared birthdays and outings, even though I was a "sifrino" from Prados del Este.

For what I have seen, they don't share the same conceptions and values about democracy that the other half of Venezuela does. Concepts like alternability, balance of power and freedom of the press sound alien to them. Incredibly, they don't subscribe either to Chavez's socialism --which they understand even less than democracy. They also don't seem to realize that there is a connection between whoever is elected president and the path the country takes. They speak like if whatever happens in Venezuela is not the responsibility of Chávez.

My perception is that they have the political consciousness of a 13-year-old. They want to know that eventually Chávez will give them "something" --a red t-shirt, a house, a sense of recognition and belonging. And certainly they like Chávez because he looks like them, speaks like them and thinks like them. Most importantly, he shares their belief that he is not responsible for whatever happens in Venezuela. And while he is not to be blamed, neither are them. Those of us who do have a sense of civic duty, have no idea how comfortable that realization must be!

The only thing that makes a teenager mature is time and experience. So I guess this will be necessary for these people. Let them keep being the main victims of Chavez's failed policies, and eventually they will open their eyes. A shame for the rest of us, but that is how democracy works. What we can do, if we are impatient, is build bridges towards this people, instead of saying things like "I can't believe they voted for Chávez".

kernel_panic said...

Would you say that the participation was high because since it was chavez himself who was on the line, elpueblo went to support him?

If so, what outcome do you expect from the regional elections?

If the opposition manages to win the states in which chavez won with less that the nationwide advantage, that would be half the country, and I dare to think: the most important part of the country.

And even if the above didnt happen, from the same graph you published, one can see that from that group, except for zulia, caracas, carabobo and amazonas, the difference was around 5% or less, and zulia and carabobo have always voted oppo on regional elections.

I think it's very tough, but plausible, because it is not for chavez anymore and las bases are very mad about their regional leaders, and with half the states against chavez (again, much of the more importants for the economy) it's a way to keep live the game and help to slow him down or force him to a declared dictatorship, it's one thing to pull a ledezma in a town hall in caracas, another to pull a ledezma in half of the country.

AB said...

Would you say that the participation was high because since it was chavez himself who was on the line, elpueblo went to support him?

No doubt. Think about it: when Chavez neck is on the line, all and sundry know that their own skin's in the game. When lesser men, jalabolas, appointees, etc., are on the line, there's always another chance, a reshuffle, new roles, etc.

If so, what outcome do you expect from the regional elections?

A better one for the opposition.

ollie said...

Absolutely a great post. Thanks for the contribution