Archive for November 20th, 2006

Electoral Musings from Caracas

November 20, 2006

We seem to
have entered a phase of the campaign where the only thing either candidate can
or is offering is: to win, as if they were trying to turn the whole thing into a
self-fulfilling prophecy. I have heard
little concrete that is new in the last two weeks other than the novel and
absurd barter proposal by Chavez, his only new offer after that one of killing
us with his love, which he seems to have left behind by now, because it either
did not work out well or it just does not fit his style. Hate comes out so much
easier in his life!

meanwhile has said little new at a time that I would have expected him to be
bringing up campaign issues like corruption, that have not been at the
cornerstone of his campaign. My guess is that Rosales’ advisors believe the
message should be simple and to the point and corruption can not be conveyed in
three simple words, other than the fact that the robolutionaries are truly
ripping off the country under the watchful eyes of the autocrat, who wears
fancy suits, watches, ties and allows his family to get very rich indeed.

And there
is indeed a confusing message being sent by both campaigns. If Chavez is ahead,
why the need to hire phantom and obscure pollsters that will reiterate every
two days that Chavez is ahead by twenty points? Why does Podemos tell us
that Chavez will win even in Zulia, which nobody would ever believe, and that
the war of polls is led by the opposition given that two out of three polls
favor Chavez? Meanwhile the dual Minister of Information and spokesman for
Chavez’ political party MVR, a conflict of interest that demonstrates William
Lara can’t even spell the word ethics, tells us
that Chavez will win by the same 70% “floor” Diosdado told us about yesterday
but Chavez has never stepped on in his political career. But much like the 80%
level of poverty that only existed in Chavez’ mind, they now attempt to
brainwash us into believing the autocrat one day got that many votes.

And the edginess
of the Chavistas is countered by the calm of Rosales and his people. I thought
maracuchos were supposed to be fiery, temperamental and ebullient, but so far
those like my stereotype do not appear to be at the forefront of Rosales’
campaign. Lately the opposition candidate is playing up “Mi Negra” a lot, which
would imply that polls show this offer truly attracts people and maybe their votes. But other
than this, the headlines just say that Rosales guarantees his victory and that
nobody will cheat him on Dec. 3d. But these guys are very calm, probably under
the belief that they simply have to watch the trend. And the trend is indeed
not only your friend, but is indeed up for Rosales.

But jeez,
this is what I am told all the time: Watch the trend! Watch the trend! But I
would feel so much better if all polls would show Rosales gaining and winning
at the same time. Life would be so much simpler and nicer!

every time I talk to a Chavista I propose a barter trade, but they reject it,
saying that I am trying to take advantage of them. Well, I tell them, so is
Chavez! I wonder how many PSF’s will barter their homes in their own countries
for a ranchito in a nice barrio in Caracas,
under the promise that Chavez will bring them out of poverty. But revolutions
are best seen and evaluated from afar. They are good for learning the theory,
but forget about going to the lab. They tend to be long and boring!

And every
time I get down, I think not of barter but of the crowds. Those crowds that show up daily at Rosales’ rallies.
Of course the opposition mobilizes their people, but the crowds are always
larger, more spontaneous and heterogeneous for Rosales’ rallies than the well
paid Chavez crowds, all dressed in their brand new red t-shirt, thirty thousand
Bs. in the pocket and a boxed lunch or dinner waiting in the bus. I guess they
are more oligarchic, uniform, composed mostly of public workers, rather than
the poor, who have become more difficult to mobilize. After all, there are few
threats against them, they have no jobs to be fired from, misiones are not
always paid on time, all they can lose is just a lousy thirty thousand every
couple of months and, if Chavez wins, that may be the end of that anyway.

Then there
is the mandate explanation: The problem is not whether Chavez wins or not, but
the possibility that the race may be too close, blocking the possibility of a revolutionary
mandate for the all powerful, allmighty leader of the third, fourth and fifth
world. As if that would stop Chavez from promoting himself! But I just wonder whatever
happened to the “Ten million votes por el buche”, when it actually looks like
maybe no more than ten million voters may show up to cast their ballot for
both candidates. So much for the revolution being a success!

the fool that
plans the Venezuelan economy says
Venezuela is at a stellar point
economically, when all he has done, thanks to a factor of five increase in oil
income is bring it back to where it was when Chavez took over in 1998, which
was not exactly its nadir anyway. But it’s funny how when these leftists have
been in power for a while, they begin sounding like neo liberal economists from
the IMF, quoting GDP growth and balance of payments, while forgetting that
imports will reach the unsustainable level of US$ 30 billion, this year, that
inflation is shooting up, half the population is employed informally,
production is a disaster and PDVSA is a mess.

Of course,
as Giordani recounts the economy of the last few years, he seems to forget how
the currency blew up in his face in February 2002, well before the events he
wants to blame all the problems on. (Chavez actually removed him for this blow
up, but brought him back in another great example of his recurrent bad judgment)
And curiously, history is repeating itself as it seems ready to blow up in his
face again.

Giordani has never been a very original man, except for his famous statement
that the North Korean economy was “healthy”. After all, if you told him
liquidity was too high and the currency would devalue, he would likely ask for
you to show him a textbook that says that. He just can’t connect dots, more so
if they are economic ones, since he has no formal training in the subject.
(Disclaimer: I don’t either, but I am not the Minister!)

And then
all of his acolytes speak to the papers
to produce the great headline: “Increase in parallel rate does not
concern the Government,” which is enough to make anyone panic. Either these guys
are truly stupid or they are the best poker players in the world! They blame it
all on demand, as if the money the people had in their hands came out of
nowhere, it is the old chicken and egg problem, but I get the feeling these
guys have no clue where the egg even comes out of. My gut feeling is they
already know by how much they will devalue if Chavez wins the election. If not,
let Rosales do the unnecessary dirty work.

despite Poesque claims of “Nevermore”, the peanut farmer center for voyeur electoral
observations is back in
, making sure that they take care of precisely the part they know the
least about: Voting Machines. Thanks God their stay in Venezuela will
be short, according to their spokesman. It must be a new strategy to minimize
screwing up, just don’t stay long and say  as little as possible!

Thus, with
two weeks left, we have a very nervous Government, with changing campaign
strategies almost daily and a war of words and polls between the two sides, as
well as changes in those running Chavez’ campaign. On the other side we have
some cool maracuchos, either overconfident because of the size of the crowds they see
daily or simply happy that they will not have to take over this really screwed
up economy right before it blows up on their faces. Is that why they are
smiling or they are just a happy bunch with beer bellies, which is the only part of the stereotype they fit!