Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mapping for Venezuela

Maps are have power, and give it to those who know how to use them.  Thus we must welcome and mightily praise the initiative from Christian Font, Dorothy Kronick and Javier Rodriguez Rivas to design, for whatever reason pushed them, an electoral map of Venezuelan electoral results since 1998.

For sure, there are still plenty of bugs in that map such as pesky borders that do not match, or perhaps the wish to incorporate too many details rather than separate the type of maps altogether.  For example I would have preferred a plain national map for the country at states levels, and a set of 20 something individual maps for each state which could carry all the data.  But I suppose that for any cartographer the temptation of trying to encompass everything in a single map for visual effect is irresistible.  Unfortunately for Venezuela it is impossible to achieve because the population unbalance, and the political polarization make whatever electoral victory visually unsatisfying if it does carry at the very least a 30% of the rural districts.  Then again since I am one of the lone voices that specializes in the Venezuelan Poduncks voting patterns I might be biased in my comments because of my needs.

Thus we have now a new tool that is bound to get better with time and that will save people like me a tremendous amount of grief while building up excel sheets.  Although I have a few minor points of disagreement with the way data is calculated (wisely based on ESDATA among other things) the general patterns are clearly set and allow to anyone with minimal interests in Chavismo electoral history (besides fraud, vote buying and the like) to see how the electoral landscape of a country can evolve under populism.  As an example on how this can be used, and its limitations, I have picked up the electoral picture of Yaracuy, my home state, in 1998 and 2010.

With this map we have the general frustration that I experience whenever I see such type of maps: WHY, O WHY?

Indeed, it is very difficult to convey the reasons why there are such electoral changes in a region over 12 tears even within an extended legend at the foot of a map.  And the more so when that map is national as I already pointed out above.  Well, maybe I should not be so tough because after all it still leaves me with something to do :)  But I suppose my irksomeness (word?) comes that I know that too many people will go no further than such maps and say " Whoah! look at how mighty Chavez is" when in fact he is in a serious popular decline since 2007.  And since I cannot force them to read my blog or similar material, well, that is the idea they stay with.

Coming back to Yaracuy.  San Felipe and Yaritagua (why the missing data on Yaritagua when I have seen it elsewhere?) are the only urban areas of Yaracuy.  San Felipe because it is the state capital and crosses the 200 K mark and Yaritgua because, well, it is becoming kind of a dormitory for much greater Barquisimeto rather than a genuine urban area.  But if San Felipe remained more or less anti chavista, deeply rural Farriar went Chavez through and through and stayed there (Nirgua should be redder than it shows because there inner chavista divisions might be misinterpreted as being opposition, but that is another story).

The thing is that in 1998 the Eastern parroquias and municipios (district and counties) of Yaracuy were sugar cane dependent and very assisted by the administration of Eduarod Lapi.  This was unacceptable for chavismo which made a strong effort to liquidate as many sugar plantation it could and revive the racial  hatred of an area.  This was done though a signficant penetration of Cuban advisers who could easily disappear in the extensive rural area that the San Felipe governor had no means to survey adequately.  In 2004 Lapi was finally ousted.  by 2006 all the main sugar farms had ceased to function, by 2008 replacement cutlrues had mostly failed and today, well, Farriar and its neighboring areas are deeply dependent of misiones and thus vote very, very red.  In 1998 I would easily go for a Sunday ride in the beautiful areas of Eastern and Northern Yaracuy.  Today it has been at least three years that I have not dared drive around there on a lonely week end.....

Thus a map can tell you the extent of chavismo's success in reaching certain political goals, but it cannot tell you the whole story.  Chavismo understands quite clearly that and if one were a total cynic one would blame the team for creating such a map that I am sure might end up being used for chavismo's propaganda sooner than later.  But I am not such cynic and I am glad that these guys did such a hard job to get the project started.  My congratulations to them and my offer to help them in any way I can.


  1. The fact that the map does not tell the whole story is important.

    Once we accept the obvious that Chavez is capable of anything to win, then it is natural that we should look for evidence to support that fact.Doing the contrary openly wastes time and messes up opportunities, and this be fatal.Remember Jimmy Carter.

    Maps like this are only as useful as the people's perception of the truth.

    This incident in the sugar plantation is another example of how Chavez acts like the greatest anti- Venezuelan, destroying the country's jobs and structures on purpose to make the unemployed dependent on his handouts.His only goals is to strengthen his control over the oil money...and he is not rigging the elections even before they begin?

  2. RabbiBulla3:05 AM

    I will draw a map for you. Cuba is the center of Chavez's world and Venezuela is joined by Chavez/Castro Heart bridge. Everything revolves around this.Really, can you imagine Chavez's world on a map?And, so many are joining everyday.Chavez is back calling "Come,we will conquer the pitiyanquis.They are weak..."
    Seriously, Mexico is the target
    now. To the border with USA...
    Next week or so,Chavez will resume his verbal "war"..

  3. I wrote again a long text and it did not come through. It only happens with your blog, Daniel.

    Anyway: compare rather from 2004 onwards. Venezuela 1998 was something else, rural areas almost always are the ones to change the last, whatever happens.

  4. It would be interesting your views on this:Published July 11, 2011

    Toby Bottome's Veneconomy editorial:

    "Toby Bottome's Veneconomy editorial:

    ¡Hablen del elefante!

    En la múltiple contienda electoral que protagonizará Venezuela en 2012,hay un pesado elefante del que nadie quiere hablar. Este elefante, es la amenaza latente de un nuevo intento del régimen chavista usar la vía de la manipulación del voto y el fraude de los resultados electorales.
    Todo el mundo ve el riesgo, menos los miembros de la Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD). Por lo menos eso es lo que se percibe si se parte de la insistente mudez, o el rechazo a la posibilidad de trácalas, que asumen sus representantes cada vez que surge el tema.
    La misma oposición ha creado su propia trampa jaula en este proceso: Si debate sobre la posibilidad del fraude, los votantes se abstienen, lo cual favorecería al Gobierno de Chávez. Si no se debate ose niega de antemano el riesgo de que se ponga en marcha la maquinaria del fraude y manipulación del voto, se daría una patente de corso al Gobierno para ejecutarlo. Ése es el dilema que la MUD y sus voceros deben resolver rápidamente."

  5. continued:

    Este es un debate que no puede evadirse. Es un hecho comprobable que en el pasado el Gobierno recurrió a falsear los resultados electorales. Allí está para confirmarlo el estudió estadístico de María Mercedes Febres Cordero y Bernardo Márquez, publicado en The International Statistic Review, que sostiene que en el Referendo Revocatorio de 2004 los resultados verdaderos fueron 56,4% para el Sí y 41,4% para el No, con lo cual el mandato presidencial sí habría sido revocado por una mayoría electoral. Otros analistas también dan indicios de las manipulaciones del Consejo Nacional Electoral en la sala de transmisión en 2006, que permitieron anunciar la reelección de Hugo Chávez por amplia mayoría, cuando en realidad había un empate técnico con Manuel Rosales, candidato de la Coordinadora Democrática.
    Ahora, sin quedarse en el pasado, la MUD debe afrontar los riesgos de fraude en 2012, sin tapujos y de frente. Debe rechazar un Registro Electoral Permanente viciado, un Sistema de Autenticación Integral de Votación (SAI), percibido por muchos ciudadanos como la vía para eliminar el secreto al voto,un sistema de auditoría deficiente que no permite la verificación de resultados a posteriori y una cadena de custodia de los instrumentos y resultados electorales parcializada groseramente con una de las partes.
    La MUD debe enfrentar el reto, manteniendo informada a la población sobre los verdaderos desafíos que se avecinan, así como trabajando arduamente en la búsqueda y exigencia de resultados al respecto."


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