15 April 2013

Maduro wins, Capriles wanders into the wilderness

One thing that I can't get my head around is this:

every person in Venezuela knows that the State is fully behind the candidate of the ruling party, i.e. chavismo. It was like that when Hugo Chavez was alive, and it continues to be so. All Venezuelan institutions are controlled by chavismo. The Armed Forces are squarely behind chavismo. All the monies of the State are controlled by chavismo. Four out of five directors of the National Electoral Council (CNE) are chavistas, not some inside-the-closet chavista, no, fully open and public. The Congress is controlled by chavismo. The Judiciary is but an appendix of chavismo. 21 out of 23 states are governed by chavistas. The State, directly or indirectly, controls a huge network of community radios, TV channels, and the country's most read newspapers (Ultimas Noticias and El Mundo). In addition to that, Venezuela's electoral roll has not been independently audited since 2005, and the Smartmatic electronic voting system was last independently audited in November 2005.

Despite all that, Henrique Capriles ran against Hugo Chavez last year, pretending that everything was kosher at the electoral level. At that time, one of his collaborators (Ramon Guillermo Aveledo) irresponsibly lied to his constituency, when he falsely claimed that the "electoral system had been sufficiently audited." This year Capriles ran against Nicolas Maduro, adopting a more confrontational tone. If electoral results are anything to go by, the combination of Chavez's passing with a deterioration of every day living and an attacking mode got Capriles a few thousand votes more and close to victory. That being said, arguments about Nicolas Maduro not having legitimacy to govern, because he got some 230,000 votes more than Capriles, is, frankly, preposterous. Unless, of course, the Capriles team present the smoking gun.

Maduro got more votes than Capriles, that's that, end of the story. You just can't enter a race, accepting that everything is stacked against you, and when you lose, turn round and say: "we do not recognise this result", as Capriles said yesterday. That is an untenable position, for Capriles knew, before entering the race, that everything was stacked against him. He knew that the State was fully behind Maduro. He knew Maduro's appointment was unconstitutional. He knew Maduro's every action, since January 10, was illegitimate. He knew that no public resource would be spared to get Maduro elected. And yet, he did participate, "hoping" that he would be victorious. Hoping? Read the first paragraph again. How could a victory be "hoped" when, as a matter of fact, the political realities described above have not changed? How can someone, knowing all of the above, enter a race and then cry foul calling the winner illegitimate? Why is Maduro illegitimate today, but wasn't when Capriles filed his candidacy? Capriles, and his team, should have done that earlier. Not today, not now. A proverbial case of "too little too late."

Utter nonsense. Appalling. Shameful. That's what it is. This is not a situation where two political parties share, in similar amounts, institutional and political power. Far from it. This is a situation where one party controls everything, and the other controls nothing, regardless of how many votes it got yesterday. Maduro does not need to invite Capriles for a round of hard political negotiations in order to reach a compromise that will allow him to govern Venezuela. No. This is no Cameron and Clegg. Rather, it is chavismo, as its usual self, pulling all power levers.

What to make of Capriles' own election as Governor of Miranda? The electoral scenario then was just as dodgy as it is today. Is he calling himself illegitimate?  Furthermore, is he questioning the legitimacy of his own votes yesterday? How about other ruling governors, and mayors? How about the representatives of the opposition (in minority) in Congress, elected by the same system under the same conditions: are they illegitimate too?

Therefore I can not but express contempt for Henrique Capriles' irresponsible antics. He's not the brightest bulb all right, but even then, he's been in politics long enough to have realised that once the die is cast, there's no turning back.


Unknown said...

Perhaps from afar it may be difficult to see that he had few if NO alternatives at all. He executed a brilliant campaign, quite unlike the October 7th presidential, seriously challenging the status quo and exercising real leadership at every step of the way. At the end of the line he got Venezuela, himself and the opposition issues smack on the world's centre stage.

It might be an illuminating exercise to try and see how could he could have done it differently.

AB said...

Oh yes, that's right, since I no longer live in Venezuela, I just can't see what's happening, nor am I entitled to criticise the twice-defeated oppo candidate. Isn't that right?

Unknown said...

Alex, I respect your opinion, but do not share it.

I think that what Capriles did was his only decent choice, out of a series of very shitty choices. You might say it was the least shitty choice.

And while you can rail against the unfairness of the system (I agree with you here), the better choice was to run and show Venezuela, and the world, that even against all those odds he could compete.

Because quitting gains you nothing, just like in 2005 we handed the Asamblea to Chavismo and look where that got us.

This will be the "pyhrric, victoria de mierda" for Maduro and Co.
This result does nothing to legitimze Maduro.

I am glad that the oppostion wants every ballot box opened and counted. Even if at the end of the day the results are the same, it shows that they will try to live up to what they are: OPPOSITION and not SUBMISSION.

AB said...

I am not arguing for abstention as a policy, or quitting Roberto.

Capriles, as leader of the opposition, should have kept his powder dry. As of today, he's got another entry in his CV: defeated by a non entity such as Maduro.

His team of advisors are beyond hopeless, and maintaining such people around undermines his chances.

It is time to stop pretending that everything is kosher within the oppo movement.

Manuel said...

Alek, I must say that in the entire time that I have been reading your blog I have never, if memory serves me right, been in disagreement with you.

BUT...in this scenario there is only one choice, to run and try to do something. Anything else is basically giving up and saying, Ok you control everything so why even try? which maybe changes nothing, but even in this situation something has to be done if anything out of sheer anger to the bastards that have destroyed the country.

The same goes towards declaring a fraud in these elections. The same way that you can still comment about things in Venezuela in an educated manner even though you don't live there any more its also possible to declare fraud in these elections without Capriles own election being fraudulent, one thing does not lead to the other. Where are the gangs of opposition members shooting up voting centers so people dont go vote with the GN running away? Where are the opposition members escorting people behind the voting curtain? I have yet to see those things happen.

Again, declaring these frauds is part of not sitting down and taking it. Even if there is little chance of anything happening things need to start changing someplace. Doing nothing only leads to nothing changing 100% guaranteed.

Why SHOULD he recognize these results?? In the agreement that was made Im sure there was no clause that said, I will abide by the results that are product of all these electoral frauds.

As far as presenting the smoking gun, how many times has that not been done?? From people being escorted, to armed assaults in voting centers and boxes full of votes being throw in gutters.

So the last thing I would call Capriles would be shameful and appalling! Those adjectives I would reserve for Chavismo.

cuervo said...

I read your article 5 or 6 time and I could no understand your point.Are you criticizing him because :
1) he ran twice and lost.
2) he doesn´t agree with the results but since he ran twice he should accept it.
3) when everything is against a possible candidate, he should not run for public office.
4) In an election when loose,you should never contest a result.
5) he is not kosher or a virgin.

I hope you could clarify your article.

AB said...

Folks, how many times have I said that participation needs to be conditioned? I think I have been arguing about it for 6, 7, 8? years?

I am not calling for abstention, nor am I saying that leaving the filed is the solution.

The debate and strategy need to be framed differently. If you are to enter a ring, to fight an 800-pound gorilla, who bosses around the referee, and to top it all has a chest filled with baseball bats, knives, grenade-launchers, machine guns, media, etc, that he is known to use, you just can't cry foul *after* losing man, that shit just doesn't stick.

Precisely *because* the game is stacked against us, is that we need more participation, more eyes witnessing, more get-out the vote volunteers, more support networks, more donations, more money, and everyone needs to understand the reality. The candidate and his team owed it to their constituency, truth need to be put out there, without sugarcoating. It is a mistake, IMO, to encourage hopes, to lie to your own constituent, with make believe BS tales about the system being under control. That's plain wrong, apart from dishonest.

Capriles fucked up, twice now. Some in his team fucked up, thrice now, since some of them were there when Rosales was candidate in 2006. When will they be told to go write poetry instead of playing with our future? We need, we must, get rid of the useless. It is insane to apply the same methods and expect different results.

Imnus said...

Alek what you need to understand is the difference between reality and what goes through your head.

We can't really pressure them to accept the conditions, the Chaverment doesn't lose anything if we don't accept to go to elections, they'll probably just win even more.

Yes we can try to do a lot of things better, but it's not so easy, if it was so easy then why don't you make the plan and convince everyone in the Opposition to follow it, it's not that easy.

Not only you need a great plan, you also need to convince a lot of people in the opposition who all have very different ideas to follow and support the plan.

Instead of making generalizations of what is done, you should focus specifically in every mistake and propose solutions and explain clearly why would those work, always with a firm grasp in reality, because you seem to live in another world.

AB said...

I do live in another world, one in which chavismo has made a mockery of the opposition, and its 'illuminated leaders' since 1998.

They, I presume as you, sure have a "firm grasp in reality".

Manuel said...

The difference this time as I see it is two fold.
1. There is actually observers agreeing to a recount
2. They were caught red handed burning ballots.

And to me number 2 is precisely the smoking gun you were asking for Alek...a big smoking pile of burning votes.

AB said...

The photos of ballots being burned are, if I'm not mistaken, old, not from this election.

But I remain open to learn more about the "fraud" that took place this time.

swingingohrwurm said...

I simply wanted to say that I agree with you, and that I am (as usual, unfortunately) very discouraged by the opposition's reaction, its willingness to believe any self-serving rumor, and most of all their simplistic arguments and logic.