Sunday, September 05, 2010

The 2010 election predictions: The Orinoco States

There are three states in Venezuela that really cannot be fit together except that their daily life is based around the mood of the Orinoco river of impressive water flow.  Being able to sail it is pretty much what decides the everyday life of its people.  Until the 60ies there was no bridge to cross it.  President Raul Leoni opened the first one at Ciudad Bolivar.  Since then a second bridge for Puerto Ordaz finally opened after much delay by Chavez (though apparently it is still not quite complete).  Chavez in great fanfare started work on a third bridge at Caicara and that was that, amen of the justification for a bridge where local traffic can be managed quite well with ferry.  But that is OK for Chavez because every so often he goes back there to pretend work is speedily advancing.  The natives are not holding their breath until completion.

In other words the three states of this area, Amazonas, Bolivar and Delta Amacuro are rather different states, fringe states, and in more ways than one.  So I put them together lacking any other justification than the Orinoco.

Delta Amacuro

We can start by the Delta of the Orinoco, the easiest one of the three to discuss.  Two years ago I did some travelling there and I saw with my own eyes how the native Americans were dependent form the central power and how chavismo slowly but surely tried to brain wash the natives.  Then again I was also told how the new chavista bureaucracy was starting to be seen with the same scorn as they saw the "criollos" before, the ones that think they know better how to live in delta swampland and come to give orders to the locals.  But economic reality being what it is, late in 2008 chavismo was able to sweep the state without any trouble, helped along by a divided opposition, and by a compliant CNE who reported some of the weirdest electoral results of the country there.  I mean, do the Warao actually bother to vote themselves?  And let's not even go to 2009 when the state had the biggest margin of victory for Chavez in spite of all of  its problems.

In truth, organizing any sort of campaign in the state will be tough because all is by boat or airplane.  Of all the national luminaries the only one I know went to Pedernales for the campaign was Leopoldo Lopez.  Then again he seems to make it a virtue of going where no other politician goes, not even Chavez.  I am afraid that it will not be enough and the four seats should go to the PSUV.  Then again a well put challenge at Tucupita and Pedernales might be enough to pull an upset for the opposition that could take a seat list.  Veronica Brito is a youthful and appealing candidate with clear indigenous good looks.  Let's give her a too close to call for effort.

Total Delta Amacuro: 3 PSUV, 1 too close to call.


This is the next state top discuss because it only elects 3 seats and it is relatively easy to discuss: same codependency tot he central power as Delta Amacuro even if the tribes are not the same.  And in 2009 it gave the second largest majority to Chavez.  Yet it is not a shoo in for the regime: after all there is quite a division among candidates with independents running, with the PPT upset at the PSUV in state where for some obscure reason it did get votes on occasion (39% of the state voted for Chavez in 2006 through the PPT sticker!).  On the other hand it is also a state ruled by the army and the guerrilla so I wonder how the opposition or the PPT or the independent candidates will be able to make sure votes are adequately counted, amen of been adequately cast.

I am going to go on a limb here since there is really no rationale way to evaluate this state (and I tried it!).  I am going to give one list vote for the PSUV and the other two seats will be too close to call.  After all it is a state with increasing problems, increased neglect of the indigenous population, the more so that many missionaries have been expelled as they were in some areas the only source of comfort and protection.

Total Amazonas:  1 PSUV, 2 too close to call


And now we come to our largest state, by far.  This is also our heavy industry state because we found great spots for massive electrical damns and enough iron worth mining and melting with that hydroelectric power.  That is until mismanagement of the country by 10 years of chavismo created an electric recession as one turbine of Guri dam after another went out of service and the government had to start shutting downs steel ovens and aluminium cells to avoid putting the country in the dark.  Well, it did not manage to save the country for the dark as most parts but Caracas get regularly several hours of power outage a week even if the vice-president announced a few days ago that the electric crisis was over.

Bolivar must become over time the textbook of how the Bolivarian Revolution failed, at all levels. Chavez, flush from his electoral victory of 2006, started nationalizing and re-nationalizing all sorts of business in Bolivar, including SIDOR our biggest steel mill. Workers were delirious at first, thinking that they would be better off, without noticing what was the already degraded working and production conditions of the aluminium industry, which was never privatized because no one wanted to buy it. Soon the honey moon ended and for at least one year Bolivar has been a hot bed of protest. And these have been aggravated when state owned utilities (it is the land producing 70% of our electricity) started being run on political basis rather than technical ones.  When chavismo eschewed competence for ideological servitude all went to hell and the workers of Bolivar are on the front row to see that by themselves, the more so that chavismo is busy trying to disband whistle blowing trade unions.

As such Bolivar has become a surprise plum picking for the opposition, the more so that this one seems to be running united, to the point of running for reelection former PPT representative, Pastora Medina, on top of the ticket district 2.  In 2008 a divided opposition failed to carry a state where a untied front would have probably motivated  enough people to vote and carry the day.  As such the opposition barely missed unseating Rangel, the incompetent and venal current governor of the PSUV.  By applying just the 5% rule of chavismo drop, the opposition should carry 2 of the three districts for a total of 5 seats.  And the 6th seat of district 3 is close though it is like in rural Venezuela very dependent on the state social programs.

Yet it is a little bit too early to count them in the opposition column: the 2007 and 2009 referenda were carried without too much trouble by Chavez.  Certainly now his impact would be less and he is becoming scarce in the area as enough blue collars have shown readiness to protest his visits and demand what the state owes them.  Bolivar has been hurt too much since 2008 and the opposition has cleaned up its dismal act of 2008.  I am not ready to give them the 3 districts but I will already give the Ciudad Bolivar district 1 headed Andres Velazquez, one of the candidates of 2008.  After all there is enough anger in Bolivar that if there is one state that should have witnesses at every voting table it should be Bolivar.

The vote list here elects 2 seats, one for each side.

Total Bolivar: 1 PSUV, 1 LCR, 1 AD, 1 UNT, 3 leaning opposition, 1 too close to call


18 states
Having reached 18 states we can indulge once again in putting up a half moon graph for the next assembly.  As you can see, even my moderate rule of a 5% deterioration of the chavista vote is already playing against chavismo.  In spite the huge electoral advantage, and having discussed the very favorable Llanos, the PSUV is not winning yet an outright majority.  True, it is favored but recent elements which I cannot discuss yet indicate that the opposition is going up.  When I mean I cannot discuss them yet it is because when I started this series of post, I set a criteria that I must use until the end, writing an update post when all is done.


  1. Excellent analysis, although a bit too optimistic, I am afraid.

    I am happy Leopoldo went to Delta.
    He knows the potential and the need to do that.

    In Municipio Diaz the SI got - apparently- >98% with an abstention close to 0. In several schools abstention for a group of voters of over 200 was exactly 0%.
    I checked out two other municipios and got the list of actas we had and Chavismo got 10% more in almost all schools where we had no actas. We have testigos only in a minority of schools outside the 20 more oppo municipios of the 300> municipios Venezuela has.

    The Waraos are becoming increasingly dissatisfied by Chavismo, but the opposition - other than Leopoldo- has not gripped the opportunity.
    It really would not take much: spending a couple of hours hearing from others about their special problems of a state, merging that with the national ones and going there to talk to people at least once every second year.

  2. I just wanted to let you know that I saw a sign in the American check-in counter at the airport in Texas that said that they cannot guarantee that Venezuelan airports carry out proper security measures. I wonder what may have triggered the warning:

  3. It's a symptom of the absurdity of Chavez's government that he has to hide away from State workers in Edo. Bolivar who should have been on the vanguard of his socialist revolution.

    I guess the only constituency that Chavez can count on are those who feel they are still getting something for nothing from the government, including the criminals who get a' get out of jail free' card.

  4. Good analyses Daniel, they make sense!

    Keep up the good work, chamo!

  5. Boludo Tejano6:46 PM

    Here is Testing Chavez, from the American Enterprise Institute.

    If the polls are reliable, it seems that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez will be tested on September 26. For the defenders of Venezuelan democracy, the test will come the morning after.
    Public opinion polls leading up to September 26 elections in Venezuela show that leftist President Hugo Chávez may have to resort to blatant fraud in order to deny the democratic opposition substantial gains in the national assembly. Presidential palace insiders are so panicked by recent polls that they have muzzled Chávez, lest his incendiary rhetoric energize the growing opposition vote. His closest advisors are scrambling to be able to blame their bombastic leader for bad news on election day. The very public death Tuesday of hunger striker Franklin Brito, a 49-year-old farmer protesting the regime's expropriation of his family's land, will do even more to rally the opposition and put Chávez on the defensive.

    More at the link

  6. Boludo Tejano,

    Good catch. For a former politico, he is refreshingly blunt about "the day after".


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