I have written little on elections lately, avoided it would say certain considering my track record. But tonight I write to endorse wholeheartedly Maria Corina Machado of SUMATE fame for the Eastern Caracas #2 Miranda district seat which will be decided in a primary next Sunday.
First, let me make this clear, I do not vote in Caracas. I used to vote in that district until I moved to Yaracuy where I vote today. Thus, in a way, since in Yaracuy I have been deprived of the primary experience, and since I am pretty sure we are going to lose big time here due to the extraordinary incompetence the opposition is displaying at least in this state, I take for myself the "right" to give my opinion on the Baruta-Chacao-El Hatillo primary of Sunday.
The other consideration which gives me further right to give an opinion on my old district is that this is the safest opposition district, that the opposition could run a red dog there and still win without the need of a campaign. I wonder if actually chavismo has a seat as safe as that one is for the opposition. That is, it does not matter who I endorse, the opposition is winning. Just in case my opinion hurts some reader's feelings.
Tonight Globovision held a debate for the primary candidates of that district. All were ill at ease, all showed as fake a smile as you can find, proving that the primary system is far, far from becoming the norm of Venezuelan politics. And considering that Caracas is a media city where Globovision is the main media today, they all knew painfully well that a mistake could be fatal for their chances a day from tomorrow.
The 4 candidates were Carlos Vecchio of Voluntad Popular, Douglas Leon Natera president of the medical association of Venezuela, Alfredo Romero as the speaking voice of many NGO human rights organization and Maria Corina Machado ex president of SUMATE and running endorsed by UNT and AD among other. Let's start by saying that Natera is a token candidate, with no chance of winning who is running to illustrate the plight of health in Venezuela. Whether rhe is elected is not going to be a problem since he represents the largest federation of MD of Venezuela, and thus has a secure presence on any medical discussion of future assembly controlled by the opposition.
The fight for the nomination is thus between the other three candidates though Vecchio and Machado are the obvious front runners. Most attention was those on these two candidates even though Alfredo Romero is also a deserving one and had a presentation tonight that put him ahead of Vecchio.
Vecchio tried to promote his community organization background and the message of Voluntad Popular and its leader, Leopoldo Lopez who is counting on Chacao to carry the day. But it will not be easy because the mayors of Baruta and El Hatillo have endorsed Machado. Vecchio is an appealing candidate, I have even met him once. But in my opinion his campaign suffers from a major flaw: it really does not address the fact that the next National Assembly will not be about fixing potholes and empowering people. It could become such but first it needs to confront Chavez, stare him down and force him to accept the democratic ways of managing a country. If this does not happen, all the best intentions of Vecchio and Voluntad Popular risks soon to become a pathetic charade and the laughing stock of most Venezuelans.
I think that Vecchio knows how critical the situation is and what a cheat Chavez is, he cannot be that naive, but he is choosing not to show it. Why? Because the strategy of Voluntad Popular is to go after the Ni-Ni vote and at this point I am not sure the time is right, even less in the district where it runs. If Vecchio were running in La Pastora or La Candelaria his display tonight would have made much, much more sense. In Baruta and Chacao people have long ago chosen between Chavez and the opposition and few votes are to be obtained threading studied ambiguity.
And thus we come to Maria Corina Machado. Of course she would be a natural for me since she is articulate, intelligent, capable, worldy and what not. Vecchio and Romero too, but she is more of it and with more established credentials in the big game politics. And that is why after tonight I hope she is elected.
Maria Corina Machado showed tonight that she has no illusions about the undemocratic nature of the regime and that an opposition victory in September would only be the start of a protracted political battle. She is ready for it, she is prepared for it. She reminded the audience that she has five political trials against her, that she was banned from leaving the country for three years and that thus, by running and not being afraid of confronting Chavez she knows exactly what are her risks. An unusual frankness after the constant platitudes of the MUD who pretends that September 27 a new National Assembly will just seat down with Chavez to negotiate. A battle is coming, we need warriors.
Maria Corina Machado knows the beast from inside. She is a realist. She is strong and determined. She is not afraid. We are going to need many people like her to seat down at the next National Assembly to take on the Cilia Flores and and the Dario Vivas that will try to sabotage it at every single step. Let's make sure that we get at least her voice inside.
PS: this endorsement cannot be translated to the parties that support Maria Corina Machado. I have endorsed her strictly on her personality, political talent and offer as compared to the other candidates. In fact, as far as UNT is concerned, I resent some of their actions in Zulia or the Los Salias district.