Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Does Capriles matter?

There are many reasons for which I have not said much about the Capriles campaign for October.  I did not bet on the winner of February, so what could I write about?   Another reason is that I do not like his campaign.  That is, there are blogs that like Capriles prowess and readers are better served reading them. Also, having bet on the wrong horse, since last February I have had zero contact with anyone associated with the campaign (nor I sought it).  I suppose my uses were over after the primary.  Fine with me; I understand; thus work politics; cool; really; when they'll need me they'll know how to find me.  Thus, avoiding redundancy and lacking time, I moved to other topics.

But things have changed lately and I have wondered whether what Capriles is doing has any real worth.

Let's start with his campaign negatives.  I see people bemoaning that he is not as high in the polls as he supposedly should be.  And I agree though I am not surprised at all.  I wrote often during the primary campaign that Capriles was winning the primary on what should have been his general election campaign themes.  As such after winning he kept doing the same thing he was doing before but now it is not interesting, it is déjà vu, and it cannot match the drama of Chavez multiple healings and generous new laws that he will not pay for. By not courting the radical vote as it is supposed to be done in primary campaigns, Capriles failed to mobilize fully his electorate. Now we are reading all sorts of tweets from Lopez trying to motivate folks.  For naught, I am afraid.  When Capriles says that no one will be fired, that no public employees should be afraid for their job (does that include Luisa Estela Morales Lamuño?) that he would not increase gas prices, I just turn off, trying to avoid not to get outright mad at him.

Oh, I will vote for him, of course, and I will try to convince a few.  But I am lacking the emotion that would help me do a good job at it.  Capriles is running the Datanalisis campaign and his polls are showing: for any NiNi he wins a supporter falls asleep.

Still, all is not lost.  After all, his campaign has started to do some positive steps.  It is more openly critical of the regime.  Capriles has dared confront the chavista media that tags him for pure harassment. That is a cheap way to throw raw meat at his radical wing.  He is even starting to visit every corner of the country, the "casa por casa", which should have started long ago and for which I was criticized over a year ago, among others by my distinguished blogger colleague JC when I wrote that even Tocopero should be visited.  Better late than never, I suppose.

The campaign has also started taking into account some of the stark realities of today.  For example, the assassination attempt against Londoño today in Bogota tell us that the regime is not above killing Capriles if needed.  This has to be one of the not readily acknowledged reasons why suddenly Leopoldo Lopez has taken more prominence in the campaign and why even Maria Corina Machado starts appearing next to Capriles in some meetings.  The counter message is clear: we have people ready to step in if necessary.

And thus we reach the title of this post: does Capriles matter?

In this fin de règne atmosphere, it seems that nothing really matters until Chavez croaks once and for all, until the different factions of chavismo settle their inner scores, until eventually conditions for elections, real elections, can be achieved.  In a way I am suspecting that the opposition Unidad senses that and does the only thing it can do while waiting, to campaign, even if some of us do not agree with the style, even if more and more people doubt that there will be a vote on October 7.

The point here is that in recent months the decrepitude and corruption of the chavista regime have been revealed so deep that the lone objective has become a change of regime, even for many chavistas.  It does not matter anymore who will be the next president, even if chavista: the poor sap will have to pay for all the excesses committed in recent years. As such maybe Capriles's attitude reflect to us his inner conviction that he is sacrificing himself for the country.  He knows he may be shot any time soon.  He knows that when he reaches power he will have to backtrack on 90% of his promises.  He knows that within months of his swearing in he will be despised by way too many people to be able to finish his term.

But the reality it that the only thing that matters now is to exit the Chavez era.  All the rest are mere details.  It does not matter anymore whether Capriles is the guy doing that, as long as it is done.


  1. Daniel, i do not like his campaign,and his Chavez Light plans,but i think(wishful think) that it's all crap.

    I think his/their plan is to win first, and THEN take off the mask,and do the real stuff. If the oppo candidates said what really needs to be done, MCM or Leopoldo would've won instead of Capriles.

    Chavez has done a good job TEACHING and CONVINCING people that the state has to make lollipops,cars,freezers,microwaves and food- the subject of less state and more private initiative is taboo in the Venezuelan ni-ni and pro-chavez spheres.

    The thought of not receiving loads of freebies and just having enough money to satisfy your needs is something people fear.

  2. Yes, the Capriles campaign lacks the shock-and-awe strength that some oppos still dream of. You know, the type of dream candidate that in an opposite direction to Chávez, punctures and gets everyone riled up, or the type of dream candidate that can't provide or rollout a consistent, cohesive plan.

    Newsflash. There's a reason why Capriles won the majority of MUD votes. No, he was not a stellar choice for many, but he was the only one able to bring to the table a certain maturity. After all, Capriles does not strike me as a pantallero. And God knows there are enough of those, both inside and outside the Venezuelan political landscape. I think that deep down, most opposition voters recognize the need for governance with what Germans call "eine ruhe Hand" (a quiet hand), especially after 14 years of harangues and chaos.

    Assuming a Capriles win, I believe that the transitional aspects of a 3-year period will help to diffuse the negatives surrounding HCR's quiet style. During this timeframe, I suspect that changes will be gradual, the baton to be taken up by a successor.

    But what do I know. The proof will come on 7-O. Meanwhile, I will continue to support HCR as the best available choice. The rest is up to the more mature segments of the voting population. Hopefully they will be the majority. Those unwilling to cast their votes for whatever reason, well, allá ellos.

    1. Syd

      I am not too sure how to understand your comment. If it is directed at me, I am just repeating what I have written long ago, I am not adding anything new, and I am actually praising that the campaign is getting more focused and more in tune with the current reality of the country.

      Also, you speak of a three years transition period which I think is implied in what I wrote: "It does not matter anymore who will be the next president, even if chavista: the poor sap will have to pay for all the excesses committed in recent years." Which is followed by my admiration tot he concept that he may be immolating himself.

      Yes, my support is lukewarm but I say why. It would be a disservice to pretend that all is rosy. No? Or am I supposed to be part of the chorus?

      Then again I may have completely misread you and you will surely correct me.

  3. Daniel, I was not directing my comments to you, per se. But I was taking some of your comments and rolling them into what I see as the behavioral patterns on the Venezuelan (political) landscape, all this, mind you, from a far-away vantage point, which can sometimes be an advantage.

  4. Daniel,

    I very much like this post.

    Aside from ideology, Leopoldo was the best politician among the options available - as he combined a capacity for taking some strong stands and firing up his base with a politicians ability not to seem too extreme ; unlike MCM and Diego Arias, who were too straight forward for most Venezuelans, and HCR who is too moderate to excite the voters.

    The regime saw the danger that Lopez posed for them a long time ago and made a master stroke by disqualifying him.


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