Chavez flips-flop on Hospital funding, but will it help him?

August 28, 2010

(The opposition once again in the Assembly? That would be terrible! Discussions, disagreements, no more “Amen” to what the President says. There would be DEMOCRACY!)

When Hugo Chavez said three days ago that he was withdrawing funding from a Hospital in an opposition municipality, because it would be a “strategic error” and he would not approve funding “so that half the money could be stolen”, it was typical Chavez speaking from his gut.

What was atypical, is that Chavez has always been very careful about such gaffes near elections. Moreover, the statement showed multiple errors, not only was the hospital not run by the municipality led by Primero Justicia’s Carlos Ocariz, but Petare, where the hospital is located may be run by an opposition Mayor, but is a poor barrio, full of Chavistas who voted for Ocariz because of the incompetence of the previous Chavista Mayor and the poor candidate fielded by Chavismo.

In some sense Petare is a microcosm of the choices Chavistas face in the upcoming parliamentary election: Do you follow voting for Chavez, despite the fact that things seem to be getting worse, or do you give a chance to the opposition to show whether they can do a better job?

But the amazing thing is that Chavez seems to have lost the propaganda magic touch he has always exhibited and the hospital gaffe is one more example of Chavez spending all his time being defensive, rather than setting the agenda for the headlines.

Tonight Chavez flip-flopped on the hospital issue approving the funding, saying he had a “small doubt”, but after three days in the headlines, it was clear that this was not just a matter of checking some fact, but a clear act of discrimination and disdain towards the opposition and the poor people of Petare.

And once again Chavez had to back track and try to deflect criticism in a manner which is unusual for him. And the opposition once again took advantage of the issue, grabbing headlines because of the sheer stupidity of the action, as well as holding a clean up day for the hospital today, that sent a clear counter message to the neighbors of Petare.

The question is what has changed in Chavez’ propaganda machine? With 28 days to go to the election, it was only today that Chavez began campaigning, as he was in Cuba on the first day electoral activities were allowed, despite the fact that numbers do not favor him and the opposition, with some luck, has been able to dominate the headlines for the last two months.

And in each case, from Pudreval to crime and now the hospital, Chavez’ reaction has been weak and quite insufficient for an electorate that is still waiting for results after eleven years with little progress in their personal lives.

This flip-flop will not help Chavez, as the blatant lie given by him for the change will also dominate the news for a couple of more days, until another issue takes over. It would have been better for the Vice-President or someone else to say the funding had been approved without explanation. As it stands, he only made it worse.

15 Responses to “Chavez flips-flop on Hospital funding, but will it help him?”

  1. moctavio Says:

    It was 86% in Pudreval.

  2. An Interested Observer Says:

    ‘he would not approve funding “so that half the money could be stolen”,’

    Two-thirds is a bare minimum. Any less is un-Bolivarian.

  3. firepigette Says:

    “Chavez goes on VTV in the wee hours to announce that a new era of reconciliation, and a thorough re-thinking “la revolución”

    Well, it would fit Chavez’s style of going forward and then taking 2 steps back.That way his pace makes change less noticeable,and people feel grateful for his reconciliations thereby only proving to themselves that he is ” trying”.

    These are common psychological tricks soit is always quite possible.Chavez jerks the country around like a puppeteer and things have changed gradually enough so that many people get used to it.

  4. jsb Says:

    “False flag street violence, attacks on PSUV centers and government installations. Curfew. Martial law.”

    Not going to happen.

  5. deananash Says:

    Eric’s scenario is entirely possible, and only one of literally hundreds of options for El Supremo II.

    IMO, His final question is what every thinking Venezuelan should be pondering….

  6. Eric Says:

    “The lax campaign of Chavez may also indicate that the election will be rigged and Chavez knows he won’t have to work hard.”


    Imagine this scenario. A replay of sorts of what’s happened over and over again in elections here the past 6 years. September 6, long lines at the polls. Very long lines. Tech glitches, personnel failing to show up at selected voting stations. A mess.

    CNE decides by mid afternoon to allow voters into polling stations past the established time limit. Darkness falls. Violence in some voting centers. Personnel threatened. Many go home ahead of time. All of this on TV, preparing you for the worst.

    Some highly publicized incidents where a voting center is firebombed. José Vicente Rangel goes on TV and denounces Colombian paramilitaries as the culprits. Talks about the desperation of the oposicionistas radicales golpistas who know they’re going to be defeated, and have decided to attack the system instead of playing by the rules.

    Chavez goes on cadena. Footage from VTV showing a CANTV microwave repeater station burning. Massive breakdown in vote transmission system. Full court press from VTV and associated media repeating the same “oposicionistas radicales golpistas atacan” mantra, all bent on sabotaging the elections.

    False flag street violence, attacks on PSUV centers and government installations. Curfew. Martial law. CNE announces the results, with many centers failing to report (“debido a fallas técnicas”). PSUV wins by a mile.

    Chavez goes on VTV in the wee hours to announce that a new era of reconciliation, and a thorough re-thinking “la revolución” (hey, private property’s not so bad, as long as it doesn’t belong to media or banking or cattle or landholding or food-producing, you-name-it interests are involved) has arrived.

    How about them onions?

    What do we do then?

  7. loroferoz Says:

    No more madness defense. No more twinkie defense for Hugo. He is at war with Venezuelans and should be held morally responsible of everything he does or else admit that he is mentally unbalanced and quit.

    Specially, he should not be judged in the light of his own views and goals. We don’t share them and don’t care squat about his wet fantasies.

    We should measure him up with the perspective of people who need medical attention and were about to be denied. With the perspective of expropriated persons and of persons who cannot make a living due to inflation, unemployment and scarcity. With the world view of persons who lost loved ones to crime.

  8. Kepler Says:

    Where do you get the average income per municipality, Toro?

    I suppose it must be like that, it would be nice to be able to map it. If you check out the INE data about ‘economía informal’ you see a huge huge difference between Caracas and the rest. Economía informal is not always reflecting lower salaries but it gives a clue. Barinas has the highest percentage of informals. Only Amazonas seems to differ, probably because people either work for the government or are completely under and unregistered.

  9. moctavio Says:

    But doesnt part of Petare fall in a Guarenas district?

  10. Kepler Says:

    I wonder if it would not be more cost effective to start investing in some areas of the rural part. Take Delta Amacuro. For that people need a special programme minding Warao interests and the one of people in the oil sector there. Pedernales, few know it, is a municipio in the hands of the opposition. From there with some support from Caracas we could make some dent elsewhere. Or take trying to expand in Northern Guárico or Barinas. There is potential to start penetrating there…but we cannot leave it to the old adeco dinosaurs with paleolithic mentalities who are the ones campaigning there.

  11. Francisco Toro Says:

    It’s important to note that, shockingly, Parroquia Petare is among the 10% parroquias with highest average income per capita in Venezuela.

    Sure, prices are higher in Caracas than in the interior, so Petare’s relative wealth doesn’t necessarily make it less poor than a lot of rural places with lower average incomes. Mostly, it goes to show how big regional disparities are in Venezuela, and how relatively privileged Caracas is in terms of income. Because the average resident of Petare just makes more money than most people in lousy barrios in almost any big city in Venezuela.

    In my election map, Petare is a Safe Oppo seat – there is no plausible road to an election majority for us without that seat. Given the huge block of llanero seats that are virtual locks for the government, the opposition has to sweep urban slums all over the country to be competitive at all.

  12. island canuck Says:

    Juan Carlos Caldera leads in Petare over the Chavista candidate.

    It’s becoming a real race.

  13. RWG Says:

    Chavez is a mode to show that he will punish anyone, Chavista or not Chavista, that does not support him 100 percent.

    The lax campaign of Chavez may also indicate that the election will be rigged and Chavez knows he won’t have to work hard.

  14. Luis G Says:

    What I find the most interesting about this gaffe is the fact that the obsessive-compulsive centralizer doesn’t even know what’s under his power by now. Just another proof of his utter incompetence.

  15. maracucho importado Says:

    how long will it take for even the most stupid of us to realise you can determin when chaves is lying,,,,,? he only has to move his lips

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