Sunday, September 30, 2012

Today we may witness the biggest electoral event of Venezuelan history in Caracas

If you can follow it, I will advise you to do it.  At least in Globo and occasionally on VTV which will manage to find any gap in the procession to prove that nobody showed up, even if VTV viewers of Caracas could not drive around today due to the congestion..  Reminder: I will publish pictures sent to me.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

When Chavez recognizes his defeat: tales of a rudderless campaign

Yesterday we had two quite extraordinary events that really reflect how bad is Chavez doing and how clueless he has become.  In chronological order.

Chavez had the bad idea to make a provocation in Monagas. True, it was the state where he was the most voted in 2006, I think, but after the major PDVSA oil spill over in Maturin's drinking water and the clumsy attempt at the regime to hide the ecological crime and force people to drink it anyway, he all but lost the state. That is, it might still be chavista enough for him to squeak a 1% victory but with the governor running against him now, and a lot of the local pols that know better, Chavez chances are dim.

The 1 million vote avalanche

Some folks are talking openly about a 1 million vote advantage for Capriles. Maybe.  So, for the fun of it I tried to think about a scenario that could work out. NOTE: this is NOT a prediction, just a mind game.

Friday, September 28, 2012

VN&V final campaign coverage and exit poll: help requested

We are in the last campaign stretch and I am asking readers to help for the following, while informing of other activities:

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Breaking news! Consultores 21 ratifies electoral findings of VN&V

The last poll before election of Consultores 21 is out and as expected the rise of Capriles kept going on and now he is leading OUTSIDE of the error margin of 2,7%. Capriles is now leading  48,9 to 45,7. That is 3,2%. Incidentally my spread number on September 17 was 2,2 for Capriles. Thus my conservative number being below the one of Consultores 21, I am happy.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Capriles in San Felipe

I played hooky from work to have a feel about the welcome of San Felipe to Henrique Capriles, as he was visiting to close his campaign here. I was not the only one, it seems. After the triumph he got yesterday in Monagas I wondered what would be the reaction here. I mean, I would have never guessed a year ago that an opposition candidate, ANY opposition candidate, could have had such a triumphant  reception in Maturin. But then again, even in Monagas, 14 years of corrupt chavismo and weeks without running water due to PDVSA take a toll.
Warming up the crowd

The format of Capriles visit was simple. He would arrive at the local private airport (no regular flights, only private small crafts) and have a caravan through San Felipe until he reached a central downtown spot for a speech. Then off he goes to another state (Aragua), as he is making closing appearances TWO states a day.

I called my contact in Caracas for some info but soon enough I realized that whatever happens in Caracas has not much bearing with the local organizing committees. So I went on my own, but still with the general description of the event. There were, I think, about half a dozen rallying points around San Felipe. That way people would be spread around the town and have a better chance to come and watch the guy as he went by. And those who wanted could go to a short speech on 5ta Avenida. I chose the big intersection of Ravell and Cedeño, where the McDonald and Burger King are located. Good parking, cold beverages guaranteed. It is the tropics, you know and at 11 AM you think about such stuff.
Avanzada Progresiva parks next to McDonald

The wait was a tad long and unfortunately there were less interesting pictures to take than usual. It was, after all, possibly the most bourgeois rallying point though from the entertainment picture on the right the crowd is quite mixed. Yes, writing a known blog allows you to climb on stage for a picture. My contact were not that useful but good enough for that. I did send some tweet pics here, here and here.

The atmosphere was really cheerful. Though not free of incidents as an asshole chavista felt compelled to drive through the intersection with his Chavez posters plastered car. The car stalled, screams came and eventually oppo folk had to push his car uphill to clear up the intersection. He did not look a happy camper and I wondered what would happen if the situation were reversed...  Surely tonight he will regale his red shorted comrades with tales of oppo violence even though he was the perfect agent provocateur.

He will arrive that way
Finally Capriles arrived and hysteria took over. You really need, if you can, to attend such a small town event where the celebrity is much closer to you than at a big city rally.  I have tried to capture it in the short video at the end, where you can even see Capriles catch the symbol cap of his campaign, wear it for a second and throw it high up in the air for anyone to catch.  Some must treasure that more than a bridal bouquet I guess.

I think that after what I saw today (including what I saw in the streets on my way there) Capriles is going to win San Felipe handsomely. Maybe not Yaracuy as a whole, but San Felipe never looked so enthusiastic in the 14 days I have had to observe it.

By the way I finally got my own baseball cap today. It is now at 100 BsF, up 40 from the original 60. A sure sign that the Capriles value is going up.

Added later. The video of Capriles speech downtown San Felipe. You can see the huge crowd for such a small provincial city.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Varianzas poll is out: too close to call

Yes, I know, I do not believe in pollsters in Venezuela but those are becoming the news themselves so I need to cover what is going on.

If Chavez were to win....

"My work here  is done"  Forward comandante
Now that this pick up from the web set the mood, before I start this post we need to distinguish between Chavez winning and "winning".  In the "winning" scenario Chavez steals the election and we can all imagine more or less what would happen next: a profoundly destabilized country and the road toward an Arab-like spring at best and a civil war at worst.

What interests me today is the possibility of an actual Chavez win next October 7 even if in previous posts I have discarded it. But elections are full of surprises.

Datanalisis as an evil empire metaphore

Well, Datanalisis last poll before the elections came out today, though not yet from direct source. Apparently Chavez is still leading by 10 points.  Unfortunately there are two things wrong with it: the undecided number is still too high for comfort and, well, the poll is one month old in its sampling. That is, pre-Amuay and the different events of this September. Source 1 and source 2.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Capriles to name his VP? An electoral blunder in the making?

I am not sure what is going on inside the Unidad campaign but the announcement that Capriles may decide on his VP before election day is, in my view, a possible major blunder.  Quickly a few reasons:

Friday, September 21, 2012

Taking stock before the last 10 days of Venezuelan campaign

Today we enter the last real week of campaign because next Friday will be the start of the "closing statement" week and campaign flavor is always different then. Thus it is a good excuse to write on how things are going on.

One of the best photo journalism opus in Venezuela's recent memory

The cover picture is the quarter page picture of El Nacional front page today. It is not only rich in symbols as to the state of the campaign, and the country, but it is also personal because on my road to San Felipe I almost always drive in front of El Palito refinery of PDVSA and every single time I am offended by the "rojo rojita" gas tank since 2006. Now, this fabulous composition taken from the slums above the road shows PDVSA in flame, AGAIN; the poltical abuse inside state companies; the gigantic ubiquitous campaign poster of Chavez as he looked several years ago; and the lame "para vivir viviendo" of Mision Vivienda. Too bad the details on the left cannot show the gigantic pot hole that I barely avoided last time I drove by.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

El fracaso del Plan Nacional Simon Bolivar: fracaso revolucionario

Estoy involucrado en uno de esos múltiples proyectos que empresas tienen que hacer a través del gobierno con pocas opciones de éxito. Y menos cuando están en campaña despilfarrando reales comprando votos. Muchos de esos proyectos, sea registro de productos o desarrollo científico con la LOCTI, requieren justificar que el proyecto se inserte en el Plan Nacional Simón Bolívar cuyo Primer Plan Socialista (PPS) cubre el periodo 2007-2013. Pues bien, me topé con esta joya aqui abajo, olvidada por muchos:


¿Datanalisis en el banquillo?

Parece que la ultima encuesta de Datanalisis en Miranda no le ha dado mucho provecho. Es verdad que darle a Capriles 16 en Miranda y Chavez 10 nacional le arrugan las cejas a cualquiera. Adapte mi entrada en inglés para Reporte Confidencial y la reproduzco aquí abajo, casi 24 horas después de que salga en RC. Esperemos que alguien se lo mande a Datanalisis, a ver si nos explican un poco el por que de sus resultados.

Las contradicciones de Datanalisis

Why did Colombia's president Santos receive Capriles?

The real reason was to send a clear message to Chavez:

“Listen Hugo.

We know that you are an insufferable asshole and that your campaign methods would send you straight to jail in any semi civilized country. We, your neighbors, and I speak for most of the continent, are not fooled even if we can do nothing about it. However, if in spite of all your treachery Capriles manages to win, we are going to recognize him. Don't you dare steal the election!

I, for one, will not allow you to fuck up what I am trying to negotiate with the FARC. And stealing elections and sending Venezuela into more chaos is not going to help me. So, help me God if you mess up in October 7 at night. If you play dirty be assured that all the files that Uribe left me will be used as necessary. I do not give a rat's ass about who wins, really, but whoever does, he wins.

Got that?”

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What are we going to do with Datanalisis?

Datanalisis used to be a respected pollster. But lately one has to wonder.  It is not that they are one of the last "serious" pollster to still give Chavez a solid lead. Why not? But it is their contradictions.  For example yesterday they published a poll for Miranda state, the home state of Capriles, giving him a whopping 16% lead.  But elsewhere they are still giving Chavez a 13% (1). Is this coherent?

My short answer is no. My long answer is on the table in the right. I have taken the table I published on September 17 and put the last column in a scenario accommodating the numbers of Datanalisis according to my hypothesis. That is, I started increasing the Chavez votes here and there, keeping up still a certain logic, keeping some states more chavista and some states less.

Well, giving less than 16% advantage to Capriles in Miranda and not even 5% nationwide to Chavez, I already get a rather ridiculous table.  Imagine what would happen if I give Capriles 16 and Chavez at least 8..... (2)

Of course, I could have reviewed my initial starting assumptions, increase voter participation, etc, etc, and create perhaps a more plausible scenario. But I think my point is clear: there is something wrong in Datanalisis approach and they need to come out clear or risk losing their reputation in barely two weeks.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Leopoldo Lopez press conference to foreign correspondents on readiness for O-7

Lopez, between Reuters and RCN
Being these days for work in Caracas I got a call from my contact and off I went to attend a press conference of Leopoldo Lopez to the foreign correspondents in Venezuela, as to the readiness of the Unidad/MUD/opposition for October 7.

I certainly was interested.  Not only Miguel had the chance to talk with the guys in charge of making sure that chavismo does not steal an opposition vote, but when I interviewed Lopez a few days before the primaries he told me that his function in the coming campaign was going to direct all the effort to organize the logistics for election day. In politics one should never miss the opportunity to do a follow up, the more so if it comes from the big boss.

I am not going to bother you with the details.  First, Miguel has an excellent account published in three parts when he was last in Venezuela (part 1, part 2 and part 3).  The more relevant part for today's press conference was part 3 of Miguel, on how to defend the vote. Second, it would be too long. Lopez speaks fast, with a high data intensity, and at one point they asked him to slow down. Besides, articles are starting to appear and I am lazy (already here, here and here).

Monday, September 17, 2012

State electoral trends + cheap poll

For the fun of it I am guessing the difference vote between Capriles and Chavez, at the states level.

It starts at my initial predictions of late August, a first assessment after Amuay and Cúpira early September and a new one after the recent attempts at chavismo to break up the opposition union.  Of course, all very conservative as explained previously, even though Capriles is talking 1 million already..

I am giving now Capriles winning with almost 400,000 more than Chavez. In the table the second column is the number of registered voters, as far as I know, in hundred K. (Apure has 292,000 voters, rounding the number).

Red, chavista, blue opposition, when the advance I give is equal to 5% at least of the total voters in a given state. I think that when one's lead is 5% of the registered voters that state can be considered safe. No? In light blue or light red shades when the result is between 5 and 0%. Leaning Capriles or Chavez, so to speak. Click to enlarge.

I also started a poll for fun. Since obviously Capriles will win in this blog (unless chavistas tweet to come and vote, which will be good since they will be exposed to a different train of thoughts) I am more interested to know through which card you will vote for Capriles.

Capriles campaign in Caracas and Petare this week end

Since this a video week end, why not end with a video from one of the popular district inhabitants of Petare watching as the Capriles march went under his window? Another awesome video, from an area that should be a chavista stronghold and that seems now lost for good for chavismo, in spite of the kitchen sink that they threw in the campaign....

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Ross Kemp of British TV in Venezuela crime hell

Courtesy of reader Glenn, we have the documentary from Ross Kemp on his trip to Venezuela last December.  That is right, just as the electoral campaign started. Ross Kemp has jumped from soap opera acting to hard core investigating journalism and the results are impressive. In his new series "Extreme World" he visits hot spots and, well, Caracas had to be in the list.

The two segments below with some of my comments. Trust me on that one, you really need to watch this.

Of course, I cannot comment on all because the coverage is so complete, so rich in details, I'll do just some that you may miss.

After a paradoxical good week for Capriles Chavez finishes in tears

This week had all the elements that could have sunk Capriles campaign. And yet he came out of it stronger and this Saturday it all ended in a rathef teary eyed Chavez in San Fernando.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Is Chavez really, really going to go the violent way? Puerto Cabello indicates a yes...

To Puerto Cabello by the sea, as it should be?
We have to wonder if Chavez and at least part of his acolytes have decided already that if violence is needed for them to stay in office, violence will be used.  Besides multiple threats of civil war, coups, and what not, this mornign we got yet a new escalation in electoral violence when at Puerto Cabello welcoming party for Capriles was attacked by a chavista mob, all in red shirts.

You can read a possible objective account in Associated Press, in English.  but let's look first at the dissociation of Venezuelan official news agency. In it we can read clearly that chavista militants feel it is normal to hold a barrage to a visit by Capriles in Puerto Cabello. Puerto Cabello is red and simply, in the mind of  Mariely Almao, the opposition cannot come there to pretend that they are a majority. A majority where?  In the country? Puerto Cabello? I have put at the end the full ABN news because I think they may erase it or edit it, so outrageous that thing is....

Election funnies: for 200k you can buy your own political party

One old political tradition in Venezuela, lost since 1998, was for small inconsequential political "movements" to switch sides close to the end. They could go one way or the other, without regard to the putative winner. And it certainly included some cash transfer or promise of a governmental job. All very funny , very traditional.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 11 2012, a letter to my North American friends

Dear Friends

Inasmuch as I sympathize for you a lot today, and I do, I am writing to you to let you know that it has been 11 years now. I think that grieving for the World Trade Center should be over, you should move on and start taking back your place in world leadership.  You may think that by invading Iraq and Afghanistan you showed who is the boss, but you did not. Invading Afghanistan was good, but invading Iraq was not, on so many levels, including damaging any possible good you did in Afghanistan.

Former ambassador Patrick Duddy is rather grim on Venezuelan elections

Read it all here.  At least a gringo that has a good idea of what is going on here.  Maybe he read blogs while stationed in Caracas? :)  You will be hard pressed to find as complete an assessment of the different scenarios possible around October 7 than in this memo to the Council of Foreign Relations.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A not so victorious campaign: Chavez es una encuesta ambulante

UPDATED, and worth the update

I have been trying to ignore it but there has been such silliness from the chavista side mixed to more serious stuff that a warning post is necessary.

Last Friday I was watching Diego Arria at El Ciudadano talk show promoting his latest memoir.  Asked about the poll wars, he replied one of his best lines ever, "Chavez is a walking poll" (Chavez es una encuesta ambulante).  Indeed, watchign Chavez and  his campaign can only lead one to think that these guys are smelling the winds of defeat, that they are not used to it and that they are scared.

Let's go in kind of a retrograde order to examine the evidence.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Venezuela's electoral numbers 2012: 4- September forecast

And thus we have reached the last stretch, that deadly one month mark where elections are either dead set or where spectacular implosions appear. Both are possible though serious polls at this time reveal either an even race, or a Chavez ahead but Capriles closing the gap at a good pace.

Thursday night on TV there was Christian Burgazzi who was discussing analysis on polls and historical trends. In his opinion the victory of Capriles is almost a given, by 900,000, and he is willing to accept the only trend based analysis of de Silva that gives him as much as a million votes.


Thursday, September 06, 2012

Yanomami redux

What to think?

On one side the IACHR demands that investigation about the alleged Yanomami massacre keeps up. On the other side, brazenly, Chavez says that nothing happened, just as a military involved in the investigation acknowledges that maybe today a group may finally reach the alleged crime scene since from helicopter they could not make out conditions. The group also needs set up a place where an helicopter could land. In other words, they do not know but Chavez does.

But the outburst of Chavez comes from the same place as his outburst over Amuay. Just as the mess of PDVSA has ONLY one culprit, Hugo Chavez, the sorry condition of venezuelan native people is the fault of ONLY one person, Hugo Chavez. If all the promises made to natives in 1999 did not come through it is because it would have meant empowering them, protecting them from drug trafficking and garimpeiros. Instead the venezuelan corrupt military made a big buck controlling gas supply in the southern rivers, putting garimpeiros through extortion, and protecting drug and FARC movements at the Zulia border and Orinoco delta. Where natives live in the largest numbers.

Recognizing that there are "maintenance" problems at PDVSA and that natives can be mistreated without consequences is tantamount to recognize that his whole revolution was a lie. And certainly Hugo Chavez will die first before he recognizes that his two main planks have been an infamous sham, an excuse he had to promote what he really meant to promote: Fidel Castro and the FARC take over of Colombia.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Abstention: the key in October to kick out Chavez

Yes, I know, I know, abstention is the ghost that haunts all elections and the one that gets invariably blamed by the losing side, as if ALL "abstentionist" would cast the same vote for the losing side if they were marched at gun point to the polls.  But after Amuay I really think that abstention has become the key to a handy Capriles victory, handy enough to force chavismo to accept the result.

First a brief psychological observation.

Monday, September 03, 2012

The post-Amuay pseudo-revolution in pre post war Venezuela

Cantankerous Rafael Poleo makes the point of its Zeta main piece this week that after the Amuay disaster the elections of October are pointless. He suggests that the sate of the country is so bad that we need to be creative and remove Chavez now, reach some sort of political compromise (a transition period regime of a year or two?) and then proceed to elections once it is all settled some.  All this because it is now impossible for Chavez and Ramirez and a few others to surrender government if they lose elections.  They know they will go to jail and so their only option at some form of freedom is to make at the very least an electoral coup that will only destabilize the country further.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

The strange case of the Yanomami massacre in Venezuela

I have resisted so far writing on the latest sort of scandal because from the start, the exactitude of the 80 Yanomami natives killed seemed strange.  I mean, 80, such a round number a few weeks before election time.  I am also pleased to note that the Capriles campaign has remained discreet on this matter, leaving to others to ask for investigations. Including Brazil, whose own garimpeiros are accused of and who does not need to be further sullied by this raucous group.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Chavez real Potemkine villages, with fake green houses included

The latest scandal to shake chavismo and provoke yet another intemperate response that hurts it more than it he's is the expose of two remarkable activists. They showed that the huge green houses set along the ARC highway for propaganda purposes were in fact empty, some with overgrown grass that showed they have served no agricultural purposes for maybe a year. The video that infuriates the regime is below. It is in Spanish but the images speak for themselves.

As a personal note I can assure you the Potemkine green houses are fake. I pass at least 4 times a month in front and for quite a while the peasant in me wondered what the he'll was going on. Never any worker to be seen. A lot of dust. Overgrown access. Etc.

Meanwhile not only we import 60% of our food, at least, but the regimes prides itself on that "to cut down on inflation"