Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013 in review: the year we realized that the Venezuelan electorate is wretched and vile

To open this entry allow me to mention a fabulous article of Javier Brassesco in El Universal today. Venezuela celebrates on December 28th its equivalent of April's fool in the rest of the world. What Brassesco shows us today is that Caracas has felt at least 18 times for the false promises the regime made to improve the city. Since 1999 he enumerates 18 major instances that may have gotten as far as the first stone and pretty much nothing else since.  For good measure one of the 18 he mentions is pre-Chavez, but he also tells us that Chavez made sure that "Paseo Vargas" can never be fulfilled because it is now blocked by Soviet style buildings he disposed in its way because of Mision Vivienda, one of the greatest stains on urban design ever.

How can we explain that a city that has been as mistreated by a government for over a decade and a half finds still in itself to have the will to vote in its main district for the incompetent and vile mayor the regime run for reelection? How can 54% of voters of Libertador district can still vote for chavismo when in 15 years they have come to suffer one of the highest crime rates of the world, the worst inflation in the Americas, a profoundly inefficient public service from the subway to water, electricity and garbage removal, etc, etc.? How come?

Looking for explanations in the opposition bad candidates, lack of message and whatever is not enough. Blaming it on electoral treachery is not enough alone. After all, electoral fraud only works for a while when a substantial portion of the electorate supports a regime (let's say, 40%). Whether we like it, whether fraud increases the numbers, there is still great knee jerk support for creeps like Maduro and Cabello all across the country.

As a matter of fact we cannot put the blame alone on the lumpen chavista that follows blindly some bait: the opposition voter is very mercurial, very temperamental and a large chunk of its voters simply cannot be bothered with organization, monitoring and the like, when not actively encouraging abstention without proposing anything in exchange.

On Sunday 8 too many chavistas succumbed to fear and blackmail. But even more opposition voters could not be bothered to vote for local councils and preferred to go to the beach or the mall, using often "abstention" as a political weapon excuse. In fact, many of these opposition voters could not be bothered to stand a half hour in line to vote but did stand in line as long as it took to ransack electronics store a month before.

We need to come to grips with that reality: a majority of the Venezuelan potential electorate is useless, do not vote on information, do not vote on values. A majority of the Venezuelan electorate votes for its egotistical interests, or for perpetrating personal revenge on real or imaginary ills, or out of raw emotions, or just think we should kiss their feet when they vote. A majority.

As long as the political class of Venezuela, be they chavistas that secretly know better, that know this is a mess but are afraid to do something about it, be they opposition who are unable to speak the truth to the country, do not find a way around this hurdle, do not find a way to create and install a responsible system that can resist the superficial and ill tempered electoral swings of the country, this land is never going to improve.

Then again it is possible that this humble blogger is too worldly, too convinced on the benefits of democracy, too educated on its history and what it took to get it to be able to grasp that most people in Venezuela do not give a shit. He remembers he was only one of the 300.233 voters, a mere 7,26% then, that knew better on April 25 1999 and voted NO when asked to approve Chavez calls for a constitutional assembly. That he has been proven right over and over again is no consolation.  His only hope is that today we are more than 300 thousand democrats in Venezuela. He wonders whether it is the case...

Note added much later: I should be remiss not acknowledging that idiotic and misinformed voters are not exclusive to Venezuela. All democracies suffer that scourge. However in other countries, maybe where educational levels are better, it seems that no bad government, or at least no government that gets a misery index above 30% can be suffered for long. Only in Venezuela it seems that the worse things are the more entrenched the regime is. I was mentioning Caracas, but in the greater Caracas, in Vargas state, we have the very worst example.  That state suffered a catastrophic natural disaster in 1999 and was never fully reconstructed, going as far as forgiving Chavez for not allowing a US team to come in 2000 to rebuild a road that to this date has yet to be rebuilt in full. And yet, after a decade and a half of being perhaps the worst administered state of the country a decent opposition candidate managed only 38% of the vote, 4 points less than in April... I am sorry  but I cannot think of any other example in history of a district that so stubbornly clings to corrupt and ineffective administrations.  Places that could come to mind like Mississippi in the US had formal segregation and gerrymandering and voting right restrictions. Vargas has none of it.

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