Friday, November 05, 2004

Comparative literature: two views of the Venezuelan electoral results of October 31

Two articles in Thursday’s El Nacional give us an excellent example of two ways to see the world. Separated by two pages Milagros Socorro, a favorite of this blogger, and Mary Pili Hernández, the cute face of the revolution, give us their political analysis of the results. It is a fascinating exercise to read in detail and compare these articles. Milagros Socorro towers above most of political analysts by the seriousness of her analysis, reinforced by her clear moral convictions. Mary Pili Hernández demonstrates again that she is all revolutionary fluff, bearer of the eternal prerecorded message, though occasionally showing an ethical side of her own that makes her shine above the rest of the chavista “intelligentsia”.

Milagros Socorro

In her article Milagros Socorro makes a point to demonstrate that the victory of so many chavista candidates is not only the result of Chavez pushing them, but due to their own merits. The comment she makes on Diosdado Cabello’s victory in Miranda is rather impressive:
This would imply an unjust downgrading of Cabello as a politician, as a successful campaign manager and as fighter in the electoral contest

In other words, the defeat of Mendoza is not only due to abstention and what not, it is due, as this blogger reported too, to the fact that Mendoza went on campaign as an after thought sometime mid October while Diosdado had been hitting the campaign trail for a year.

Milagros Socorro goes further and recognizes that in all but two of chavistas victories there were reasons besides abstention to explain the chavista’s victories. Well, I would add that Yaracuy should be added to her short list, but in fact she is very right when she points out that the opposition has made errors EVERYWHERE in the regional election campaign.

The short list of Milagros corresponds to two notable victories that should have never taken place, under any circumstance, Carabobo and Zulia. There, the only reason why these people got votes was for the voter's surrendering of their free will to Chavez, knowing full well that the Chavez nominee was worthless. When she refers to her own state of Zulia where Gutierrez was the Chavez appointee, her definition of victory is that Gutierrez got more than 10 votes. So alien to Zulia was Gutierrez that it would require a new definition of carpetbagger. Apparently he thought that Domitilia Flores was some lady with problems and asked about her replied that “her problems” had been reported to him and that he was going to do something about it, in the purest non-thinking populist fashion. Unfortunately Domitilia Flores is a neighborhood and Gutierrez became the joke of Maracaibo.

Milagros Socorro is able to differentiate between a carpetbagger and a real politician, which is more than can be said for her newspaper colleague.

Mary Pili Hernández

In her column, which improbable title was the “night of masks”, Mary Pili Hernández endeavors to demonstrate that the opposition was a big hot air bag. Well, she certainly might have a point, but her approach unfortunately diminishes the value of that point.

Her first comment starts with the abstention level. Clearly she has not hit the web page of the CNE and realized that abstention was very variable among the states, anywhere from 30% to 70%. Amen of how much trust one can put on the numbers coming from the CNE. Yet that does not stop her from dismissing the abstention as a factor in the defeat of the opposition when it is quite clear that it played a crucial role in some areas, such as Sucre municipality.

Ms. Hernández dislike of numerical analysis is reflected when she compares Primero Justicia and Accion Democratica results. If Accion Democratica run a nation wide campaign, Primero Justicia did not do so. It certainly was present in many states on the ballot, but it did not campaign. At least in Yaracuy, where they were on the ballot only to support Lapi, I did not see a single poster of Primero Justicia nor did they call a meeting to support Lapi. However looking at the web page of the CNE one can see that where Primero Justicia indeed challenged AD, even if meekly, it either won (e.g. in Miranda) or got a result not too far below of the AD mediocre results (e.g. in Lara).

But the real objective of Ms. Hernández is elsewhere. She has been writing for a while trying to help prying AD out of the Coordinadora Democratica embrace, perhaps not realizing herself that AD has been a saboteur of the union and that for all practical purposes it left the CD on August 16. It is quite amazing that succeeding the initial hatred of AD by Chavez, we are seeing now a move by people such as Ms. Hernández to resuscitate AD, probably as a new form of “loyal” opposition. After all AD and chavismo have the same social origins so perhaps they could be brought to share some of the Chavez manichean visions.

If the reader doubts this supposition a simple quote of the article should suffice:
[the] utrarightist party that for the public is known as Primero Justicia

Ultrarightist? In reference to what? One thing is certain, chavismo and AD share the same fear of Primero Justicia who represents efficiency, education, technology and all the values of a the brave new world of globalization. But the subconscious of Ms. Hernández betrays her at the end of her article.
As the President said: a ferocious battle against corruption and bureaucracy, and a constant fight for efficiency.

Curiously, what so many town halls of the opposition, such as Baruta and Chacao, are known for is for efficiency, in a stark contrast to some town halls in the hands of chavismo, such as Libertador and Sucre, crumbling under garbage and crime. Not that this is a privilege of chavista municipalities: Barquisimeto is a well run city and its mayor was brilliantly re-elected, getting even a more elevated vote than the Lara governor. A fact, by the way, that she could have used here. But perhaps when she travels through Venezuela she is too involved in political meetings to observe objectively if a place is well run or not.


Unfortunately Ms. Hernández for all of her qualities cannot stop from being a political hack first and foremost, and the ability to nuance things escapes her on occasion; she can flounder badly when she does to take time to read the real results.

But all of this would be great fun if it were not that Mary Pili Hernández is about as good an intellectual as chavismo can offer us. As I have said, if it were not for Chavez, most of these people would not be heard of.

Milagros Socorro on the other hand shows clearly what a critical eye should see. We would be so lucky if we had half of her convictions and integrity.

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