Saturday, February 04, 2006

What to do with Venezuela: part 1

Chavismo in turmoil

Denying that December 4 has had no effect on chavismo is simply ridiculous. For the last two months what we have seen is a vengeful Chavez, berating his ministers, attacking further the opposition, looking for any possible catfight with the US, and what not. This is not the hallmark, by any standards, of a government that can claim a legitimate electoral victory due to his great administrative success.

Because the facts are there: at most 15% of Venezuelans bothered to vote for the “official” candidates. A meager 2 to 3% did vote for some obscure “opposition” candidates: not a single one of them making it, not even getting a reasonable vote count. Another few % points did vote null, rather surprising in an automated system, higher than in any previous election, and a sure sign that many of these null votes were intentional, likely from public servants and military personnel forced to vote by their boss as they had to show up their tainted fingers on Monday 5.

All in all, according to the now totally discredited Electoral Board, CNE, 75% of the people did not vote in an all important national wide poll. Opposition figures put that number at 83%. The truth is definitely above 75% and the international observers of the OAS and EU seem to agree with that as they coincide with observing many irregularities going form the infamous Tascon list (1) to the unimaginably unfair partisan advantages benefited by official candidates, who in many cases did not even bother to campaign. Not to mention the unaccountable prolongation of voting hours that gave voting numbers a suspicious out of norm boost.

But why was this abstention, even if we accept the dubious 75% figure, perturbs so much Chavez and his acolytes? (many chavistas are on record stating that a 60% abstention would already be a major set back for their project)

The first thing to keep in mind is that Chavez does not care whether the opposition votes or not. What he cares about is that he was told that the polls gave him a hard core between 30 and 40% and AT LEAST half of his hard core turned out not to be so hard core. This is what is bothering Chavez, and nothing else. Half of HIS electorate cannot be bothered anymore.

All the Misiones, all the cadenas (2), all the propaganda, all the first class patriot citizens versus betraying escualidos, all the vulgarity that should appeal to the people, all the pictures taken with Fidel, Qadaffy, Saddam, Evo, Lula, Kirchner and more had no effect. All the incredible sums of money spent in corruption to buy votes and consciences, for nothing.

Anyone would be dead worried, and justifiably upset with such yields. But what does Chavez do? He pushes forward. More gifts to Evo. More “social” spending. More international shows all Venezuelan paid. More and more threats. More of the same CNE. Thursday February 2, in yet another cadena, he removed some taxes, decreed an ex-tempore 15% minimum wage increase, and a few other social measures, 10 full months before an eventual vote. What else is in store? We have all been served notice: Chavez will have no problem bankrupting the country if necessary to get from the not even 3 million votes two months ago to 10 million votes by the first Sunday of December. You better take legal risks and start buying black market dollars if you want to protect your already meager retirement fund.

This is not judicious campaign planning, this is desperation.

The saddest part is that with a reasonable campaign and allowing for a free CNE (and opposition division) Chavez could win anyway. But he wants to win with all. Hubris!

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1) The Tascon list is the infamous list where all the citizens who signed against Chavez in 2003 are blacklisted. It has been expanded to the Maisanta program used currently to deny state services to this second class group of citizens. The international observers have decried this list. Chavez in public has asked for the list to be thrown away, thus recognizing its perverse existence. But no sanctions have been taken again the perpetrators of this unconstitutional and fascist attacks on Venezuelan civil rights. Tascon has been allowed to return to parliament.

2) cadena is the perverse mechanism when Chavez can get at will a linked anf forced broadcast of any of his speeches for as long as he wants on ALL airborne media. That is all TV and radio stations must carry on demand such speech or activities, without any compensation for lost advertisement revenue. The listener has two choices, turn off the TV or Radio or get Cable TV as the government cannot force them to transmit its propaganda as the signal transmitted belong to other countries. You can observe these days many Direct TV dishes in Caracas downtrodden neighborhoods! Thus demonstrating in yet another way that the alleged "core" support of Chavez is weakening.

RETURN

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