Still trying to come to terms with the enormity of what happened in Venezuela a couple days ago. Still difficult to believe that a bunch of thugs, otherwise knows as chavismo, with so many skeletons in their closets, with so much to lose, with their immediate freedom in great peril, sort of gave up, conceding an election. An election, in Venezuela, just like that.
Now I'm on the record, railing against the fairness and transparency of what's come to be known as the "world's best electoral system." I am perhaps the Venezuelan blogger that has written more on the topic. My investigation into the way in which Smartmatic came to be the provider of choice for electoral processes in Venezuela started sometime in 2004, and is still ongoing. The website I created and used to run, vcrisis.com, published in 2006 perhaps the first ever audit, in English, of Venezuela's electoral roll. In 2007, Hugo Chavez thought he would become Emperor of Venezuela. He proposed such far ranging amendments to the constitution, that even his own followers turned their backs and didn't back it up. We are still waiting for the final results of that vote, the only one Chavez ever lost. In August 2004, there was a recall referendum on Chavez's stay in power. After years of negotiations between opposition parties' representatives, government and international mediators, Venezuelan electoral authorities announced, in the early hours of the morning as it has become norm, that Chavez had won by an almost 20% margin. No one checked that results announced were correct. No one could. As a matter of historical fact, no observer, international or otherwise, was allowed to witness the final tally. Opposition representatives did not have a clue of what was happening within the bowels of the Ministry of Elections. Carter Center and OAS representatives fucked up, big time, in safeguarding ballot boxes in the places where they were stationed, and in further guaranteeing that the joke of an audit conducted three days after was done properly. In 2005, an opposition technician showed during an audit in front of international observers that the secrecy of the vote was compromised. Another audit, of the electoral roll organized by the electoral body, ended up concluding that the roll simply wasn't fit for purpose.
All of that hung in my mind, like a hanged body. Like something you just can't ignore when trying to inform a decision on whether the electoral, under such circumstances, was ever to become a viable solution to get rid of chavismo's power stranglehold. I became an advocate, and wrote countless words about how the opposition, armed with nothing but current legislation, should demand conditions, as dictated by law. I railed against the opposition, endlessly, for accepting the unilateral, and illegal, imposition of unfair electoral conditions. Time and time again I argued what I thought was only fair, and self evident.
So count me among those who were skeptical about elections in Venezuela, among those who denigrated an opposition leadership that never stood up for our electoral rights. But then Sunday happened (6D). With all of the above, against a State that bracenly used all power available to it, legal and otherwise, Venezuelans voted massively against chavismo, against the hunger, violence, misery and, above all, against the hardship that chavismo has unleashed like a curse on Venezuela. I will be hated for this, but I will call it a punishment vote (voto castigo). Venezuelans, chavistas or not, voted against chavismo. The monumental clusterfuck that Venezuela has become is chavismo's, and chavismo's only, legacy. But within it, in its defined political context, I admit I was never expecting such a quick, zanahoria, give up. People with so much at stake aren't supposed to give up without a proper fight. In all honesty I never thought this would happen, and oh have I been proved wrong!
As some people heard my rants against electoral authorities, I heard an endless stream of arguments against the opposition's lack of a program, a manifesto, a plan: "you can't beat chavismo without a plan... you have to win hearts and minds... warm up to chavistas so they vote opposition..." and on, and on. Well, it wasn't the opposition. It was all chavismo, and THEIR plan. It was THEIR utter destruction of every fabric of Venezuelan society which pushed the majority to the opposition's arms.
Still speechless, but tremendously happy and slightly hopeful, I am eager to keep being lectured, and proved wrong, for that'll mean further steps towards a democratic, peaceful and progressive Venezuela for all. There are gargantuan problems ahead: corruption being, in my opinion, the most important. As I write this, there's already talk about Henry Ramos Allup becoming President of the new Congress. I don't think a man like him should even be considered as worthy of that kind of responsibility, and that's what makes me a lifetime-member of the opposition. But for now, I can only be grateful towards my compatriots.