Some final (I hope) thoughts on the results of today’s referendum

February 16, 2009

As expected the amendment proposed by Chavez, which is completely illegal was approved. I was sorry that I was right, but after being sure of a No win for seven out of the eight weeks the proposal was on the table, the numbers became simply uphill in the last seven to ten days. Pollster Datanalisis can claim now to be the only pollster to get it right in the last five elections, Datos, Hinterlaces and Consultores 21 simply blew it. They were all predicting a No victory.

My turning point came about ten days ago when I saw a presentation with a poll saying it was a tie technically between Si and No, but that Chavez with 10% points more in approval rating than he had right before the 2007 referendum.

That, together with the massive abuse of power in overwhelming all media and the people with the SI campaign and knowing that Chavez would scare or drive his supporters to vote told me we were going to lose. The whole thing was manipulated too much. It was not a level playing field.

But as I said, Chavez wasted two precious months, the economy has deteriorated further and I get the feeling that we will see a new Minister of Finance in the next few days, which implies that there will be no proposals for over a month. Because what’s coming requires a team of Major League Economists and Chavez has a bunch of amateurs looking to make a local buck for their pockets. And you can be sure they will screw it up big time. Look for inflation to reach 60% easy in 2009 and GDP to collapse. Not a pretty sight.

The opposition did not do well. Yes, they had no money versus and adversary full of it, but it seems as if it were not for the energy and organization of the students, we would have done worse. Kudos to the students. It was quite a sight to see them today going door to door with white shirts with a white hand in front and “Mobilization” on their backs, calling on people to go and vote. The opposition parties have never done anything like that.

And this is also the fault of all of those Venezuelans that had the supernatural belief that somehow there would be a miracle. That in some way, God or Allah or a Genie will protect them from Chavez like it did in 2007. Why bother to organize, participate or get involved if the miracle was coming?

So, in the end, maybe the irrelevant result is exactly what the opposition and democratic Venezuelans needed: A wake up call to get involved, work together, get organized and participate or everything will be lost, your hopes, your country and your freedom. Because Chavismo pushed the envelope to incredibly new levels, spending your money, bypassing your laws and liying its way to victory while you stayed home until today. And all with absolutely no scruples.

And even the Parliamentary elections of 2010 seem so far away. because there will be so much pain and suffering before then, that it is even hard to envision what the Venezuelan political landscape may look like by then. We are going to see too much pain and suffering before then and you can be sure many will split from the autocrat. Money will become scarce for everyone.

Chavez should be worried about completing his current term, because if oil price stay near where they are, even achieving that may be quite a feat. You can’t lie about shortages, about recession, about inflation and about incompetence. And least of all, you can’t leverage that into getting reelected after twelve wasteful years in power.

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