If it ever was difficult to understand what is going on in Venezuela it is now. In the face of adverse polls that suggest he will lose an illegal second referendum that would eventually allow him to be reelected, Hugo Chavez changes his tune, allowing other elected officials into the package and begins provoking, lying and using silly charegs of treason against some members of the opposition as if plotting a strategy and meeting with experts in an election was somehow illegal.
So, we may ask, what is the point?
Because time seems to be too short to overcome the difference in the polls. Even the absurd question that will be asked in the ballot at the referendum is so bizarre, obtuse, absurd and unintelligible, that at times, it seems to me as if the strategy is actually not to hold the referendum.
But is it? I just can’t tell. In some sense the Obama inauguration limits Chavez’ ability to do something dramatic against the US, it would have no justification. Gaza seemed like a good topic, but while the opposition did not say much on it, it did not attack Chavez’ decision frontally either, so it was hard to use that as an excuse.
So, start provoking the students and make up silly emails against opposition figures, who seem to use code for some characters in their emails, but make sure that others are easily identifiable. To top it all off, they use company emails in a world where it is trivial to open dozens of fake email accounts all over the place.
Then, get up and state with a straight face, that there are no longer street kids in Venezuela, because Chavez actually solved that problem. Or that food inflation is zero (yes he said zero, cero) for those that buy in Mercal, as if the Government did not approve dozens of price increases in 2008 and the Venezuelan people were dumb enough to believe what he says.
Of course, there is no mention of crime and the daily threat it represents to the average poor Venezuelan, or that poverty is now measured differently to improve results and is nowhere near the lows in the much maligned and ever reivindicated IVth. Republic, when oil revenues per capita were not what they are today.
So, what is the intention? Provoke to divide? Provoke to delay? Lie to convince? Pulling all the stops to overcome the deficit?
Maybe it is just all of the above…
Chavez knows he is behind and the difference may be unsurmountable, but…
If he provokes, divides, lies, buys votes and cheats..maybe, just maybe, the inevitable can somehow be avoided.
And if not, maybe we can postpone too…If we can show the opposition is conspiring because they are trying to beat Chavez, the students are just pro-US pitiyankees and Chavez has saved us all, maybe we can make it close enough for the CNE to save the day.
It is just like the way they are managing the economy. It is a huge Hail Mary pass to try to save it all in one try. For the economy, it is oil, if oil recovers before June, the revolution is saved. If not it is in huge trouble. For the election if they can close the gap, maybe Rafael Ramirez can go spend PDVSA money and buy votes nationwide rather than just in Sucre State, the CNE can swing some votes or stop counting and we can get our hands in enough refrigerators to give away and save the day.
The whole thing is simply too bizarre for someone confident that he even has a chance. Thus, the strategy is surprise, confront, provoke and hope for the best. Don’t let the opposition develop a strategy, keep them off balance. Cheat, lie, deceive and do whatever is necessary.
Which is what worries me. Chavez and his Government have proven to have no scruples in all this. Violate the Constitution, change your mind, violate the law, violate people’s rights, accelerate the process, don’t let anyone new register to vote, forget about doing anything about the economy until the vote is over.
What else will hapen in the next four weeks? What new suprises, rabit out of the hat, challenges and lies are we going to see before February 15th.?
Scary, isn’t it?