The Candidates for Venezuela’s opposition primaries: And then there were three and a half

October 31, 2011

With the decision today by Caracas’ Metropolitan Mayor Antonio Ledezma to withdraw from the race, the number of viable opposition candidates has been reduced to a very manageable and desirable number. Not that I found Ledezma competitive, but had AD backed him, he would have had a potential number of votes come February that gave him a chance of not being last. The rest, Eduardo Fernandez and the former Supreme Court Justice that I never want to remember her name don’t count in my book.

I have nothing against many people running, but I think that some of the candidates were a little unrealistic in their prospects, you can’t withdraw from Venezuelan politics for twenty years, particularly these twenty years and expect to have a chance. Others may be in the race because they think maybe next time they have a chance, like Maria Corina Machado. Or they want to make a point like Diego Arria. But in my mind, there are only three and a half candidates left, whereby I am giving Ms. Machado a half, only because I think that that Pablo Perez’ candidacy may flounder with AD’s backing and she may get quite close to him.

Without further ado, here are the significant candidates left in the race, in the order of my current perception of where they stand:

Henrique Capriles Radonski: HCR has become the clear front runner. So far he has timed his movements well, picked his spots and used a fairly non-confrontational strategy of setting his own agenda to become the clear front runner according to most polls. Up to very recently, HCR would not even mention Chavez by name, he has changed that strategy recently. HCR has not been too specific other than preaching unity, a Government for all and hard work. He has attracted very important backings from Causa R, PPT and some unions, becoming a de facto candidate of the left wing of the opposition, save for Bandera Roja. As most candidates he has been short on specifics, which is all right with me, except that he was very specific about currency controls, a subject that I feel very strongly about. HCR has a strong management background, he was a Deputy of the National Assembly in 1998, Mayor of the complex municipality of Baruta and now Governor of the most complex state in Venezuela: Miranda.

I like his organization, his soft message so far, his veiled messages to Chavismo telling them he will not be partisan and how he has managed to position himself ahead so far, despite not being the terribly charismatic (He should smile more often)

I worry that he may have peaked too early and he may not generate the passion that a race against a recovered (if it happens) Chavez would require. But right now it is his race to lose.

Leopoldo Lopez: His campaign has been delayed by the uncertainty as to whether he should run or not, by the former mayor of Chacao got a green light and that should change his position in the polls as well as in his ability to raise funds for the primary. LL is a terrific campaigner and very charismatic, which should help in a National race. As with the other candidates his message has been one of a better Venezuela with some specifics, particularly on oil (He wants to increase production). He has built a very impressive national network and has been going around Venezuela thinking long term. He probably has the largest national organization at the grassroots levels.

I like his long term thinking and how he stuck to the CIDH suit to be allowed to be a candidate. He is a great campaigner and generates passion (either way). He is a good listener and seeks out opinions (Disclaimer: he is the only candidate to have contacted  the Devil for opinions up to now. And more than once). I think he has what it takes to win and the smarts to run a good Government.

Some people perceive him as being too individualistic and too much of a caudillo in a country of caudillos. Chacao is a small municipality with lots of resources, but it was well run. The fact that he is still formally banned from taking office may hold off many voters, but if he wins, I have not doubt he will be able to be sworn in.

Pablo Perez: The Governor of Zulia is young, articulate and managed to get the endorsement of AD that I think may work against him at this stage, as people are wary of the old political parties. He also promotes unity, his track record as Governor and hard work. He comes across well, but like HCR is not charismatic, may even be boring. I don’t think the historical fact that a maracucho has never been President matters. What matters is that  he is not as well know nationally as Capriles or Lopez and the winner is going to have to get lots of votes outside the large states, where PP is not well known.

Perez has the advantage of being the only major candidate that has popular roots, can not be accused of being an oligarch. He comes across well and has support and some organization to project nationally.

He lacks charisma, not a great speaker and in the end his experience is limited. His adeco past and new endorsement may come to haunt him

Maria Corina Machado: I was going to leave MCM out of my post, but her persistence and my feeling that PP could melt, convinced me that it would be unfair. MCM has little managerial experience but has been quite an eloquent and articulate speaker as a Deputy of the National Assembly. While I don’t particularly like her “Capitalismo Popular” slogan, I understand such labels can be quite useful and I like what they stand for.

She has stuck to her guns so far, despite her imperceptible ratings in the polls. She has a political posture, which is unique and more than can be said about most candidates.

Her drawback is that she has no political structure, she is too oligarchic, not well know nationally and I dont think she is electable. Venezuelans clearly want “someone like you” and she ain’t it.

My preference at this time is for LL, I think he is electable and will seek out a good team. However, I also think HCR will be hard to unseat from the lead. The race is his to lose.

I will vote for the winner of the primary on October 7th. 2012 in any case.

172 Responses to “The Candidates for Venezuela’s opposition primaries: And then there were three and a half”

  1. Susana Says:

    It saddens me that I won’t be able to vote. My consulate is in Toronto and, from the look of things, I won’t have enough money to make the trip.

    If I could vote, however, I’d vote for whoever comes victorious from the primaries. This is not about who we like, this is about who we do not like.

    • Carolina Says:

      Where are you Susana? There is a new consulate in Vancouver for western Canada.

      • Susana Says:

        hi Carolina, I am in Manitoba, so either way, it is halfway to either consulate, there should be one in Calgary, it would make things easier for SO many of us

  2. Daniel Says:

    I think I’m a big fan of MCM, anyways saw this post on CNBC, worst places to do business… Venezuela you guessed it was ranked numero uno.

    • Syd Says:

      who made the selections? under what criteria?

    • CharlesC Says:

      Nothing would please me more right now -if suddenly say
      25% of the country decided they liked very much and
      were interested in Maria Corina Machado’s message!
      I would be inspired that there is strong hope and it is
      very much alive- even if she doesn’t win- just a significant
      showing and a large amount of respect….It would restore
      my faith in the people of Venezuela,

  3. island canuck Says:

    OT or not as it’s election related:

    Hugo Chavez’s family ‘want him to give up presidency due to cancer’

    A doctor who fled Venezuela after claiming President Hugo Chavez has only two years to live has said he only spoke out at the request of the radical left-wing leader’s own family because they want him to step down.

    “Now a new statement, released via medical colleagues of Dr Navarrete, threatens to undermine further Mr Chavez’s insistence that he has been declared free of cancer and will be fit to fight next year’s presidential election.
    “Whom requested Dr Navarrete to make the announcement on Chavez’s health was the presidential family, his daughters and his mother; they want Hugo Chavez to give up the presidency so he can rest and spend time with his family”, said the statement.
    It added that “the presidential family is concerned because his kidneys are not working; he is being submitted to dialysis almost daily, he is being bombarded with steroids”.

    “He said he was worried that Mr Chavez himself might not know “the full magnitude of his illness given it has been handled with complete secrecy.” The comments were dismissed by a team of doctors treating Mr Chavez, who insisted the prognosis was “excellent”, while the president himself said he had no memory of ever meeting Dr Navarrete, who claimed to have treated him in 2002.
    The latest statement from colleagues of Dr Navarrete, who worked at the University Hospital in Caracas until July, said he “has been the presidential family doctor and did surgery on Elena de Chavez [the president’s mother]”.

    • CharlesC Says:

      Island Canuck- it is beginning to look like National Enquirer-
      but, it may be true?
      Possibly Chavez would be getting a kidney transplant , if this is true?
      If he is getting dialysis- there could be a shunt in the arm- that takes months to heal before it can be used. (He keeps his arms covered all of time..)In the meantime – the kidney dialysis may go in through chest, or
      neck- and there is no site noticable on neck.
      Chavez has been -out of sight and quiet -very much lately-
      what a relief. Except when he does show up- he drops some
      rediculous bombs- every Sunday it seems..

  4. Syd Says:

    You raise a good point, FP. If Venezuelan homes are such matriarchies, then why is that theory not supported in the legal system?

  5. firepigette Says:


    I think you are right….but nobody who is really Jewish could ever be a candidate in Venezuela which is the root of my fear for his future but he has come a long way( Capriles I mean)….

    Tying in Primero Justicia with the problem facing women and the need to address it, I must say PJ appealed to me because the poor and all the other disenfranchised have never had the proper support of the law.You have to start with that…even the lack education is nothing compared to that problem.Security has to come first.Security meaning crime control and justice.

    It was a shock to find out when I was there that just being a woman made it almost impossible to fight for her own legal rights against her husband concerning the division of property, alimony etc.

    Given that so many households are headed by women only ( often under common law marriages) it is a travesty for the country.

    I don’t believe I have heard this theme discussed much on the blogs.

  6. firepigette Says:

    As for those who discount MCM for ” sifrina” they are probably the same ones who discount Ledezma for ” dinosaur” or PP for ” old school” etc.

    If we use these label memes to discount instead of looking at and appreciating the individual candidates, then we will end up with a chameleon who is just plain insipid ( the lowest common denominator).

  7. moctavio Says:

    Just saw a very recent poll of the primaries from a good pollster, essentially, HCR and PP have 41% and 27%, LL 17% and in 4th. place was (since he is no longer a candidate) Ledezma with about 4.2%, MCM had 2+%. The race is young but looks very hard for MCM to catch up and difficult for LL. In fact, this suggests to me HCR may be unbeatable as if LL withdraws, his votes are unlikely to go to PP.

  8. firepigette Says:


    Well she might not beat the regime because she does have less supporters, but obviously if people would support her, she could.

    The good old boys are very strong in Venezuela ( in my good ole Southern town as well)as a side note I would add that it is shocking to see how similar a small Southern US town is to Venezuela in some ways…as I grew up in DC this is my first experience living in the real South as an adult, and it is full of surprises)…I did live in Alabama for a short stint as a teenager, when I was less conscious so to speak.

    ….the whole buddy -buddy system maintaining the status quo through the support of friends and allies is why systems are so hard to break.People are afraid of people like MCM and hesitate to ally themselves with someone who might refuse to make a pact with the devil so to speak.

    Even men with relatively good intentions think that in order to win you have to form alliances with ideas and people that you might not agree with.This might make sense under normal conditions, BUT, in times of revolution when we need to take 2 giants steps forward ,we have to break the mold and go against the status quo.

    During the civil rights movement, here in NC people had to do just that, because the good old boy system would not allow for change.Change was at that time a highly revolutionary idea, and people had to risk their lives for a new world.

    I see LL and Capriles just fine…but I seriously doubt they are capable of bringing about profound changes in the way I think MCM has the possibility of doing.

    • liz Says:

      Somos una sociedad con muchos complejos y pendientes del qué dirán y no salirnos de lo que se hace en nuestro círculo.

      Sadly, it’s the truth. It takes guts to be and think different.

  9. liz Says:

    And with regard to the comments about the candidates being oligarchs, come from old money, ápellidos’ or sifrinos…

    Look what happened when we (please do not include me!) elected a poor man from el pueblo!

    One of my aunts used to say in 2000 “cómo se les ocurre darle el poder a un limpio!”. Sounds discriminatory -I’ll give you that- but look where he brought us to.

    And for the record Keplercito, being sifrino is not only the way people talk or pronounce; nor if they have money or position. It’s more like a state of mind. There are also ‘sifrinos de barranco’… penny less (SP?) folks that try roll their tongues when speaking and live/dress beyond their means. they act like they know about worldly things (wine, designers and the like). Dumb as wood and ignorant as they come.

    I think MCM is not sifrina, she’s oligarchic -like Miguel says- but I do despise the term. She comes from money, but the other 3 are not from Catia either.

    • Kepler Says:


      Sifrinos are very much as ignorant and as stupid as the sifrinos de barranco or anyone else, even if they know about wine and designers and the like.
      They are, though, associated with people who think – I will say it in Latin – QVE.CAGAN.MAS.ARRIBA.DEL.CVLO (the upper case is no shouting here, but classic Latin didn’t have lower case and made no difference between u and v). I have seen more of this in Venezuela than among the poshest of the posh in Germany or the Benelux.

      What I am saying here is that it is absolutely irrelevant where they came from. It is an issue how they relate to people. There are two points here:

      1) if someone can “sound” more down to Earth and less pretentious it helps. You can speak in standard Spanish and not have a single bit of sifrino. By the way: the d as /t/, is a very conscious hypercorrection you hear in both Tibisay Lucena and María Corina Machado, definitely not standard and not upper anything, it’s unnatural for most but for some Basque bilingual speakers and a few others.
      2) if you can show you have actually spent more time LISTENING to the average Venezuelan, you have more chances of winning. It’s only normal.

      Finally: there wouldn’t have been a Chávez without a Caldera (and others)

      • liz Says:

        María Corina habla como Tibi Lucena? Really? Boy, you should have your ears checked LOL?
        Now seriously, MCM says calidat instead of calidad? I’ll have to pay more attention….

        • bruni Says:

          Liz, you’d be surprised. I know of a picture of young Lucena with people that are now very close to MCM. Moreover, I was just putting the video of MCM and my son, who is very sensible to accents, told me she sounded just like my sister. That is not unusual: it is the Caracas of our generation, we sound the same, we had the same friends, went to the same places, schools, did the same type of things.

        • Kepler Says:

          I am not saying she is speaking exactly like Lucena. Read what I wrote.
          She does pronounce many final d as /t/, just like Lucena and a few others.
          Their accent is rather different…
          Come on, Liz…does it matter so much if both did have same general speech? Sort of…”clase es clase…tendremos que buscar otro acento”?
          Por eso es que estamos como estamos.
          As I said, the relationship I mentioned was the affected hypercorrection of final d

          • liz Says:

            Kepler, es que yo no lo he notado… I mean, the T at the end instead of D.
            But yes, MCM speaks with an accent, I would say a Caraqueño from the East. Maybe you would think that I am a snob for this: but Lucena does try to speak with all the Ss at the end of plural words. Las fuerza pues, I feel that she sounds unnatural when she talks.

            As Bruni says, -coming back to MCM- we went to the same schools, universities, same circle of friends etc. Caracas used to be very small, We do sound pretty much the same…

            A little story: I have a friend that emigrated to Italy. Her italian is very funny!! She speaks it with a caraqueño accent… interesting, no? she was raised here by her italian parents and only spoke italian at home, went to an italian -caracas based- school and still… tiene el cantadito nuestro. I don’t speak italian, but when I listen to her I understand everything! because of the accent.

      • Deanna Says:

        Kepler, I don’t really know what you mean by “standard Spanish”. Venezuelans have a their own pronunciation, intonation and use of Spanish words, but I would not consider that “standard”. The way MCM speaks is a product of her education and class and should not mark her as a non-viable candidate for the presidency of the country. I think I would rather listen to her anyday than to Chavez. I know that I have had Ola Presidente or any broadcast of Chavez on TV or radio prohibited in my house just because I really cannot stand his language or his voice, let alone what he has to say.

      • Syd Says:

        Kep, Liz, Bruni,
        MCM’s last syllable emphasis comes across as – and ojo! not always – libertadt, posibilidadt, etc., the ‘t’ barely audible, but it’s there. You can catch the nuance, not in the below-noted video but among these:

        Dicho lo anterior, el acento es lo de menos.

        She has very good energy, is very clear and very direct. No futzing around. Mind you, she keeps to her message, so the range by which her responses are judged is somewhat limited.

        I hope she stays the course. I hope she’ll always be part of the government, or a thorn in its side. As an independent, she’s an asset.

        Would I vote for her? It’s too early to tell. A lot can happen in the next few months. And I’d still like to know who finances her campaign.

  10. IvoSan Says:

    while my favorite there is HCR, I dream about LL winning the presidency and the CNE saying that he cannot hold office because Clodosvaldo Russián is more Soberano that the voters.

    Now that is something that can only be described with the Peo word.

  11. firepigette Says:


    I definitely agree with you that women are abused and the “dominating” factor of cauimismo is in reality mostly a defense mechanism when confronting the lack of real OUTER power.The barrios are proof.

    Most women have a great deal of inner power, which we use in the world at times in a cuaima form,but if we were to come together and use it to rid ourselves of someone like Chavez, it could translate into a much stronger form of outer power.

    On Daniel’s blog he posted a video of MCM.I love it, because you can observe the people’s body language while she speaks…it is the body language of being impressed by the force behind her language.A force that is instinctive, controlled, just, and implacable.Rarely do you find a man with this particular kind of strength.And one of the main strength’s men have is that they come together in a kind of buddy buddy system to gang up on their opponents but women usually go it alone…but if women were to support some like MCM this could add greatly to her strength.

    • liz Says:

      Cerdita, I watched the interview yesterday, alive. I like her very much.

      What I like the most is her outright way to speak. Sin pelos en la lengua! She calls this regime a chavista communism, she says things that no one has been brave enough to say. But is that enough to beat chávez? (así, sin mayúsculas). I don’t know…

      She’s assertive, she’s outspoken. During her interventions in the National Assembly she is not afraid or feels ‘amedrentada’. She gives them hell but with such class. No bad words come from her mouth. Just the truth.

      Still, I don’t see her beating the regime, just yet. She could be a vicepresident 😀 thou.

  12. firepigette Says:


    Unless a woman keeps up an act, it won’t work…very few men are so weak, that a piece of paper only will retain them…Even after marriage I have observed the feigned deference in one way or another- as is the emphasis on appearance and seduction as a kind of feigned deference in and of itself.

    But this theme needs more attention, because it is central to the interplay of relationships, politics, and social drive inherent in Venezuela, and in my opinion one of the keys to unlocking the caudillo/strong man ( really weak inside) that we keep on being prey to.

    • captainccs Says:

      firepigette, I neither agree nor disagree with the book even though I have seen a lot of marriages where it applies. In others the man dominates. My point was that the subject has been discussed earlier and in other political settings.

      As for the advantage of electing MCM, I think she has a better chance of breaking the old socialist mold and mindset than any of her male rivals. When CAP tried it he lost his job. That experience isn’t lost on any of the candidates. Job preservation is a politician’s first priorities. One starting out from further right is more likely to give it a try.

      My priorities are: 1) unseat Chavez, 2) unseat Chavismo, 3) move Venezuela towards the center, 4) move Venezuela to the right.

      • CharlesC Says:

        Wow!! You see balance and the rebalancing needed.
        (By the way I could have been like your friend a couple of times-but, thank
        goodness I found a wonderful partner.)
        When I came to this thinking -it sort of shocked me and woke me up-to the
        as you said “advantage of electing Machado” -some are begining to see
        this. You said it best-
        “I think she has a better chance of breaking the old socialist mold and mindset than any of her male rivals” -and by the way -you have your priorities
        right on course!! Anchors away, Captain-a grand voyage awaits!!

  13. captainccs Says:

    The “quaima” theme is neither new nor particular to Venezuela. Esther Vilar, the German-Argentinean author, wrote about it in “El Varón Domado” (The Tamed Man) back in 1971. From Google:

    La idea principal del libro El varón domado es que la mujer no es oprimida por el hombre, sino que en realidad es la mujer la que controla al hombre para manejar la relación, y esto es algo de lo que el hombre muchas veces no es consciente. Para ello la mujer atrapa al hombre usando estrategias de seducción. En palabras de la autora:

    El hombre fue entrenado y condicionado por la mujer, de manera no muy distinta a como Pavlov condicionó sus perros, para convertirlos en sus esclavos. Como compensación por su labor los hombres son premiados periódicamente con una vagina.

    My translation:

    The central theme of the book “The Tamed Man” is that woman is not oppressed by man, in reality woman controls man to drive the relationship and often the man is not aware of it. The woman traps man with seduction. In the authors words:

    Man was trained and conditioned by woman, not too differently to how Pavlov conditioned his dogs, to convert then into her slaves. In recompense for their labor, men are periodically recompensed with a vagina.

    I saw it happening to a friend of mine. The future bride would do anything to “conquer” my friend — until they got married. Now he is a puppy in her hands (and in her vagina?).

  14. firepigette Says:


    I read and enjoyed your piece on Cuaimas!!

    I have never read anything on the subject, but have had ample experience living in the popular classes of Venezuela as ” una mujer mas”.

    I think Venezuelans are a mixture of the matriarchal and patriarchal society.The matriarchal society is very strong in the small towns and barrios, but there is always the mix.Personally I never saw this phenomenon that you describe where married women suddenly become cuaimas.Most I knew retained their independence, had serial relationships, and knew well how to manipulate men through feigned deference.

    Yet you make a point that I like very much and think that to some extent could apply to almost any country, but ESPECIALLY to Venezuela.The cuaima energy is always lurking in all of us…..even among women here in the US you will see it when we feel someone attacking our children.Women hate to see the weak bullied in anyway, and often we can be attack dogs to defend those who cannot defend themselves for whatever reason.

    I am not sure why many Venezuelan women have not started attacking Chavez more, you alluded to it in your article, but I didn’t quite catch it….could you elaborate more?

    But I agree that if we had someone like MCM who has the instincts, intelligence and courage…the particulate kind that usually only women have,and that is sometimes called cuaimismo we could conquer this blight called Chavismo.

    Keep on developing the theme…very important for the country.

  15. bruni Says:

    The discussion about the matriarcal society inspired me a post, in my language!
    Here it is:

    • CharlesC Says:

      Thank you for the illuminating article. You sound like an anthropologist -and you have the political angle right too.
      This is very exciting. You see the possiblity of Machado here and now.
      (Kepler was right again.You are great, I did not know,,,)
      This is a great, well-done article and I hope it is widely read.
      I believe Machado can do it!!!
      And, next year-beat Chavez!

    • Syd Says:

      Cuando se clasifica una sociedad como un matriarcado, suponiendo que existen otras sociedades que no lo son, acaso no invita una óptica demasiada simple, si no falsa?

    • captainccs Says:

      En Argentina elegieron a una mujer. En Brasil elegieron a una mujer. En Chile elegieron a una mujer. En Nicaragua elegieron a una mujer. ¿Cual es el problema de elegir una mujer en Venezuela? ¡Ninguno!

      I fear that electing Capriles or Lopez is just more of the same. The oppo wins, Chavez rigs the election and after ten minutes of arrechera the oppo sticks it tail between the legs and goes off to licks its wounds for another six years. ¡Pura pérdida!

      Imagine Chavez stealing the victory from MCM. Would the cuaimas take it lying down like our machos do? Something to think about.

    • liz Says:

      I left you a comment in your forum Brunildita.

  16. CharlesC Says:

    Notice Chavez is sort of quiet- wait until Sunday-seems like
    each of past few Sundays Chavez drops a big bomb or two…
    Anyway- I predict Chavez will do somethings to “upstage the
    events-in February- opposition voting. Not being content to wait
    Chavez will interrupt, disrespect, threaten- probably has a big
    nasty disruption planned…
    And,again-forcasting – this Sunday- another strange colored
    suit -something rediculous.
    Don’t anyone think it is utterly stupid- on the one hand kissing up to
    the world’s worst dictators -eg.Quadaffi and Castro and on the other hand
    acting so pious and religious…

  17. firepigette Says:

    Kepler, I don’t speak German, and my husband is too busy to translate right now, maybe tomorrow.

    There is machismo everywhere, but I think it is different in each country.

    As Bruni says, in Venezuela there is a strong matriarchal society,but that includes machismo.Women in Venezuela( especially in the popular classes) are expected to do just about everything, and do it alone) while the men can be as lazy and good for nothing as they wish too and still command respect.Men often think they have the right to cheat on their wives and have primary say in the direction the family takes.

    It is true that men and women socialize a lot in Venezuela together.In the US we do not generally fraternize much with men.Women here are expected to be wary of men’s advances and not give any opportunity for them…at least the women of my generation are that way.Woman have mostly female friends, and men have mostly male friends after we are married…but before marriage the sexes mix somewhat in friendship.I was shocked when I first went to Venezuela and saw women trying to be friends with married men which in my country has always been largely tabu.

    However women here in the US tend to be able to express themselves more honestly than in Venezuela and men treat us with a great deal of respect in a group conversation which I never saw in Venezuela where in groups the women usually had to do most of the waiting on of others, and defer their opinions to their husbands opinions, acting as back ups, rather than as unique people in their own rights.

    The emphasis placed on youth and beauty only emphasizes the negative machismo in Venezuela where women are often treated more as objects than as human beings.

    • Maria Gonzalez Says:

      “The emphasis placed on youth and beauty only emphasizes the negative machismo in Venezuela where women are often treated more as objects than as human beings.”

      You are correct firepigette about this one…and many Venezuelans feel proud about this….I love been a Venezuela women, but this emphasis i can understand. However I think is it not only Venezuela…Brazil is some ways very similar.Plenty of boob jobs there also.

  18. extorres Says:

    chavismo in nicaragua:

    We need to wake up and start promising to distribute the oil money, daily, unconditionally, or get ready for communism a la chavez, or chavismo a la communism, or whatever chavez feels like whatever day of the year.

  19. bruni Says:

    Syd and others, Venezuela is a matriarchal state. The so-called “machismo” is entirely fabricated by women themselves. Nowadays, the “machistas” are the women, not the men. In particular in the medium and lower classes (upper classes try to mimic more the anglo-saxon behavior). It is the women the ones that will decide if Chavez is reelected or not.

    So the issue of wether LL is perceived as handsome or MCM can be representative of venezuelan women or not is a VERY important one in a matriarcal society like Venezuela.

    In that sense, I believe that MCM could be a role model if she was not perceived as stiff and too high class. She is in her 40s, divorced with three kids, and trying to “make” it in a man-dominated field. She should exploit more that angle because vzlan women, who are the real voters in this election, would identify with her.

    In fact, I think that the woman that would be the perfect match to Chávez would be a llanera that had raised her kids alone and did not have pelos en la lengua, a CUAIMA, that would be a perfect match. So MCM’s nerdy stand appeals to me, but she should become more of a cuaima if she wants to be successful in this battle.

    • CharlesC Says:

      Bruni- very perceptive as ususal.
      She is not a “llanera and maybe she will get around to “speaking more strongly
      once she is elected” -right now- she may be a bit too careful.
      She could start some huge fires right now, don’t you think?
      I don’t want a “female Chavez” -ha. No perfect match.
      How about “opposite” of Chavez?

      • CharlesC Says:

        Sorry -I forgot to add- the interesting thing you keep saying
        about Venezuela being a “matriarchial society”-
        all I know is the older ladies I like and respect so much,and
        many of the young hard-working, nice ladies as well-
        but- the “chavista machistas” -male or female- just seems like
        a bunch of immature, noisy, uneducated….

      • extorres Says:

        The “opposite” of chavez would require someone who doesn’t think they know best how to spend the oil money for the supposed good of others, that is, someone willing to get rid of the petrostate model and not ride on its every waves.

    • Syd Says:

      Bruni, I agree in part with your observations.

      In Vzla, women rule their homes and practically all spheres related to their family. Absolutely no question. But that matriarchal influence is severely lessened at the upper levels of industry, as well as in the executive ranks of most large-scale commercial endeavours. As for the military, there are zero matriarchal elements about it. Well, except for selling chicken at el Mercal.

      I also agree that MCM needs way more backbone, beyond her verbal shakedowns in the National Assembly. The cure for that, I think, is time. She needs to age and to hold office at, say, a mayor’s level. She has a long way to go for political traction. I think it’s insanity to consider her for president, but I really like that she’s in the race.

      What so few want to consider is the elephant in the room, the engorged military, and how each candidate would deal with it. In that sense, MCM would not command respect for very long.

  20. Kepler Says:

    Syd, Firepigette,

    Machismo is not a single parameter. It is a complex issue. You cannot measure it like you do average height, where you can clearly say Venezuelan grownup males are on average 170cm whereas the Dutch are 179cm (and we know: our relatives and friends in Venezuela might be on average 180cm).
    As Syd said, it depends a lot on social groups.
    But there is more.

    I have a couple of female relatives -in Venezuela- who just made a better career in engineering areas than males that started at the same level, at the same time. And the thing is: I realised that was the case when Europeans who met them told me so. I hadn’t even thought about that before.

    I know quite some Venezuelan women who have worked as physicians in Germany or have been there and talked to others and their impression is that machismo in their fields is worse in Germany than in Venezuela.

    Some of my friends who have worked in France say in some issues French women have less problems than German women. On others, it’s the other way around…

    My closest friends here in Europe tend not to make an issue about gender, but I have often seen here more separation of the sexes than in Venezuela.
    “Let’s leave the women talk about their things”, I have heard…which is very weird for me. There are some cases in which we do feel more like talking to people of the same gender, but in Venezuela that’s not the norm. People in these cultures are more divided according to gender.

    It seems the situation in the States varies a bit depending on the region:
    Here you have the experience of a German woman in Firepigette’s area:,1518,783783,00.html
    Firepigette can give us her take.

    Once in Germany a woman who found out I was from Venezuela approached me and told me her story: her dad worked for several years in Venezuela and she went to the Humboldt school. She would hang around with the boys just as we do. When she went back to Germany, they were very much misunderstanding that and thought she was trying to chatter up.

    On the other hand, I am shocked at the level of violence against women in Venezuela. I wrote about that in my blog: there are over 13 times more chances of a woman getting murdered by a relative or partner in Venezuela than in Spain, of all places. Is that just part of the general violence in Venezuela?

  21. firepigette Says:


    Those kinds of questions , posed to different members of the varying countries all over the world, essentially have little meaning.

    At most they might represent how strong a tendency the people have to bitch, or not, or how strong their nationalism is.

    Measuring happiness is impossible, much less in a comparative way with different cultures.Some people would call happiness relative contentedness, other would go deeper into more existential requirements, others, just the fact they get their daily bread.Some might feel it improper to complain, and then again others like to complain just to complain.

    • CharlesC Says:

      Yes, and everyone is happy on payday in Zimbabwe, too-
      when they recieve their millions$$
      Actually-they finally abandoned their currency ..
      why- it got so bad it took how many thousands to buy a
      loaf of bread??
      Point is -Venezuela is headed that way…
      and what I quoted above is a joke of sorts-but
      must have touched a nerve-
      Basically -happiness is -as a whole- a good society,
      with good people, good government- read Cofuscius-
      don’t take my word for it..
      And, those things do not exist in Venezuela right now, do they?

  22. CharlesC Says:

    “When in doubt, wear red.” Who coined that phrase?

    Chavez IS a “fashionista”, don’t you know?

    Answer: Bill Blass

  23. CharlesC Says:

    The North Korean Chosun Central Television Station revealed its Global Happiness Index, a list of countries ranked on the contentment of those who live there, and China came out on top with 100 points out of a possible 100. North Korea itself came in second, followed by Cuba, Iran, and Venezuela. This list is accurate if you define happiness as a “piece of shit life” trapped in a lying, repressive, communist dictatorship

    • Carolina Says:

      Add to that a big chunk of people that just don’t know better.

    • Syd Says:

      The day I rely on regular TV for my information fix, is the day I’ll be ready for the nuthouse.

      First, TV’s financial model does not include a lot of in-depth treatment of any subject.
      Second, there are no specifics tied to this *happiness index* – what were the parameters of the study?
      Third, happiness is relative.
      Fourth, if happiness is based on economic progress, then I suggest that those who believe that China is number one in this ridiculous index, go to the countryside and ask the people there, how much economic progress they’ve seen in their villages.

  24. CharlesC Says:

    “Perhaps in time the so-called Dark Ages will be thought of as including our own.”
    (Georg C. Lichtenberg)

  25. jc Says:

    Thanks for this post. I’ve been following HCR closely (LL not so much, but I’ll start following him soon), and I really like the whole middle of the road approach he’s taking so far. I was especially entertained when Chavez came out and made his little “middle class appeal” back in Sept (“Venezuela President Hugo Chavez in middle class appeal”), it was from my observation a direct response to some of HCR’s twitter messages and blog postings literally the day before. I swear the Venezuelan elections are just so interesting for some reason. 🙂

    BTW, Kepler, let’s be frank, most “right wing” Latin American politicians are left of the western politicians. It always amuses me when “leftists” here in the US make such bizarre smears against the center/center right candidates in Latin America when the fact is those guys are almost always left of the “leftists” we put into office. Correct me if I’m wrong but even in Venezuelan politics MUD is center/left from the Venezuelan perspective (PODEMOS, AD, COPEI, UNT). Heck, I’ve read Miguel talk up building roads for crying out loud! Dirty commies! (I tease.) 🙂

  26. firepigette Says:

    Carolina, I did not understand your comment , can you explain? What do you mean by feminism at its best ?

    I am not a feminist as some would think of feminism.I don’t believe in mixing social ideas and politics..

    I am perfectly happywith my gender…and always preferred being at home with my kids to any job I ever had….but for me it is about equality of worth and respect.

    There is a particular kind of machismo in Venezuela, very linked with Caudillsimo with strong authoritarian tendencies.True, that in Venezuela there are women like MCM who know how to stand up for themselves, but still most people will see MCM as somehow inferior,or unqualified because she is a woman….and therefore not want to vote for her.

    I see nothing standing in her way expect prejudice and it is coming from both men and women.

    In my opinion Venezuela will never change very much till we see a female president.But it may be the other way around…only when Venezuela changes can we see a female president.

    • Carolina Says:

      FP – I meant to respond to you first comment. You wrote

      “If half the Venezuelan population( women) were to unite and defend their gender for once, she would win.It’s as simple as that, and that day will come.I have patience, I don’t believe in enforcing anything.The same organic flow of life itself will bring it about.”

      That, to me is way too feminists and suggests that women should vote for MCM only because she is a woman! Imagine the opposite and an phrase that would say something similar: “men of Venezuela, unite and vote for LL, because he’s a man…”

      I do understand your point of venezuelan women supporting the macho system though, but it will eventually change when the society matures through a profound reform of education system.

      • Syd Says:

        I agree. Trying to shame a gender for not supporting that gender is way beyond the boundaries of democracy. Everyone of voting age should be able to make up their own mind, without having to deal with external guilt trips over their selection, on the basis of gender, or colour (rojo-rojito), or race, or religion.

        Fortunately, in the family-centric Caracas that I grew up in and to which I maintain ties, I’ve come across very few instances of “boulevardier-ism” among men and passivity among women. I’ve come across much, much more “libertinaje” in pockets of American societies — among both sexes.

        I grew up in a Venezuela where women were allowed to be professionals (from the 1950’s onward), without the denigrating sneers from men, as I found and experienced in the still small economy of Canada, over the many years. Only in the last 15 years or so, has this perspective begun to change — in certain industries, in Canada. The U.S. has been far more advanced in this regard. But obviously not totally advanced, for there is still no female president.

        So perhaps there should be a female president in office, in the US, before external calls are made to have a female president in Venezuela.

        As for the findings of widespread machismo, that really depends on the social circles one inhabits and visits. For that reason, it’s important to define these, if only a little, when making sweeping statements about genders in a particular country.

        P.S. One thing I have loved about Venezuelan men is that, in gatherings, they listen pretty attentively to discussions from or among women, whether these are about the price of beans or a comparison of fragrances — whatever the topic, it’s okay. That doesn’t happen in American or Canadian societies, where — and I exaggerate, but only a little — if the talk isn’t about sports, there’s no interest from men in what women say. Perhaps that is why women in more northern latitudes have to be so damned strident.

        • Maria Gonzalez Says:

          Two things
          1. Why we have to wait that USA have a women president to expect a women president in Venezuela? Liberia has a women president, Germany has Merkel, and Israel had G. Meyer…how about Cristina in Argentina. Women can be as good or bad president has men.

          About your PS I think you really are exaggerate…I have leave in USA for 25 years and I have not encounter that behavior. Yes men like to talk about sports, but I had many good conversations with men about many different things…Venezuelans love sports as much as people in other countries and has in other countries there is a high correlation between sports events and pictures with big boobs as expectators…just check sites such as La patilla, Noticias 24, Noticiero Digital during the beisball season.

        • Syd Says:

          Hi Maria,
          The reason I stated your number 1, is that FP who’s an American, was persuading all Venez women to vote for MCM, because she is a woman. If that condition were met, FP figured, then MCM would win.

          FP dixit: “If half the Venezuelan population( women) were to unite and defend their gender for once, she would win…”

          That’s unacceptable suasion for me. It’s like saying, “If half the US population (women) were to unite and defend their gender for once, Sarah Palin would win.”

          A lot of people — men and women — want(ed) Sarah Palin (Do they still? I don’t know). That’s their prerogative. But no one should be telling anyone to support a candidate, on the basis of a shared gender, race or religion. No persuader should be trying convince foreign nationals to vote a certain way, when that same persuader would be chided for that behaviour in her/his own country. Let me know if you need more clarification.

          As for your number 2, yes it is an exaggeration, as I stated. But not so much for my age range, in northern latitudes, more specifically, Canada. The attitudes of this peculiar age group towards women (as well as gays and immigrants) is well documented. And in male dominated industries, the behaviour is rife. Yet, let me tell you, I have long worked among many men at the managerial and executive levels. Grosso modo, I very much enjoy dealing with them — more so than where females predominate. Unfortunately, there are quite a few men who may be wonderful in their own homes, but who act out as lord and master in spheres because they know they can get away with that type of behaviour.

          Disclosure: In 1991, I sued a major Cdn bank for harrrassment, which was not overtly sexual, but rather, based on the repeated power plays by a total Jerk. He went overboard with me because he knew he could get away with it. When it came time for the bank to defend itself against my lawyer’s suit, Jerk gathered two supporters, who in cross-examination were found to be overt liars. Jerk was found to be a major manipulator. A few months earlier, Jerk had also played power games with an executive from the Electricidad de Caracas, during a loan rescheduling in NYC. You see, Jerk would often repeat that anyone and anything from LatAm and the Caribbean was, and I quote, “rat shit in a basket.” His behaviour against women and LatAms was totally acceptable at the Canadian big bank. Only when the bank lost the suit, did Jerk become the butt of jokes among the execs. But he was never sanctioned for his behaviour, other than be the object of winks and nods. That’s the sort of thing that happens so frequently among the good ole boys from Alabama, or some other southern state.

  27. firepigette Says:


    yes…The reason that it is particularly difficult to foresee who would be the winner of the primaries is because the key question about Leopoldo has not been answered, which is whether a vote for him would be valid or just a vote for Chavez. Chavismo is purposefully causing more confusion about this issue to keep the opposition off balance and affect the legitimacy of the primaries.If Capriles wins, there will be a question of whether those who voted for him because they really wanted to or because they thought they would lose their vote by voting their preferred candidate.Very important…in this way some of the candidates will actually be weakened.

  28. megaescualidus Says:

    I 100% agree with Eduardo Vasquez’s comment (October 31, 2011 at 11:38 pm). HCF won’t loose. He won’t allow it to happen. It is also far (very far) from the best interest of many people around him (who are “empatucados hasta el cuello”) to have HCF loose the elections. And Cuba won’t allow it to happen either. Can he be “forced” to accept loosing to an oppo candidate? I really doubt it. And, will all the other Chavista parties and groups of people (including los cubanos) accept loosing the elections? I really don’t think so.

    The only hope at this point is whether HCF cannot run then (because he’s too weak to do it), or whether he doesn’t last much longer before or after the 2012 elections. And if he recovers (which, in my mind, he still could), all bets are off.

    We will still vote for whoever is elected candidate in the oppo primaries, but everybody needs to recognize that the only way HCF will go to 2012 elections is if loosing is not an outcome.

    BTW, those of us voting abroad shouldn’t be too surprised if our votes are not counted. Even worse, those who recently moved abroad (and thus, in the best case scenario recently applied to change their voting location to a Venezuelan Embassy or Consulate) should expect their application not even to go thru (which is what’s happened to a few friends).

  29. Kepler Says:

    Todos estamos jodidos, Syd. Juan, on top of that, is a blond maracucho who used to be known as Kathy.

  30. Syd Says:

    Juan Cristóbal: Have you taken out chilean nationality? Do you have german nationality? Do you know why I’m asking?

    • Juan Cristóbal Nagel Says:

      Yup, I’m German AND Maracucho. Count me out.

      Besides, I’m too right-wing for Venezuela anyway.

      • Alek Boyd Says:

        Well Juan, I disagree. Someone wrote up there that after 50 years of left policies, it is about time we tried to do the right thing. I just couldn’t agree more. At this point, I reckon Venezuela must have the largest per capita delusion of its citizens believing, and saying, that they are leftists (social-cristianos, social-democratas, etc.), when in praxis, nearly all individual actions suggest the complete opposite.

        Private property, wealth accumulation, care and loyalty to self above all else, is what defines Venezuelans, from the very bottom to the very top. Go to any barrio, anywhere in the country, and ask any person, whether they prefer to be indigents at the mercy of the State, or whether they rather own their own business, do their own thing, earn however much they are capable of. I can guarantee that replies will fly in the face of this stupid notion that Venezuelans lean, in their vast majority, towards the right.

        MCM has my admiration, not because of her speeches in the Assembly, but because she is the only politician in the race who’s frontal, and sincere enough about her position. A position, BTW, shared by all others in praxis despite their proclamations to the contrary.

        Venezuela NEEDS an alternative from the right. In fact, only an alternative from the right can, IMO, get the country out of the vicious cycle in which it has been involved. Pragmatism was never a feature of leftwing politicians.

        Regarding oppo primaries, I think a crucial element has been missed in this thread: regardless of what MUD and its candidates do, the $2 trillion dictators continues to have a spending power unrivalled in the country. That, and not policies or lack thereof at MUD, is what’s ultimately going to tilt the balance. LL can still do a great deal, if he plays his cards right. Alas it seems that playing cards right, read doing what’s best for the country rather than vying for personal gains, again a very right wing treat, is what characterises the oppo field, in its entirety.

      • aleksanderboyd Says:

        Apologies for the errors.

        Sentence ” I can guarantee that replies will fly in the face of this stupid notion that Venezuelans lean, in their vast majority, towards the right.”

        Should read ” I can guarantee that replies will fly in the face of this stupid notion that Venezuelans lean, in their vast majority, towards the LEFT.”

        • Juan Cristóbal Nagel Says:

          Thanks Alek. I also think Venezuela needs voices on the right, and admire MCM’s guts in grabbing hold of that space. However, eighty-some years of petro-state gimmes make our country center-left. That’s gonna be hard to shake.

  31. Alex Dalmady Says:

    Nobody from “abajo”. (Pablo Perez is an unknown for me, but I don’t think he went to Gustavo Herrera). As for the other three, all oligarchs with serious money, which in a way is quite admirable, because if I had their net worths I sure wouldn’t be spending my time “subiendo cerro”.
    Chavez’ greatest obstacle is still his health.

  32. island canuck Says:

    Well the shit has hit the fan. These guys never stop the infighting & egotismo.

    Ocariz: Algunas organizaciones de la MUD han armado un “todos contra Capriles”

    Primero Justicia denuncia trato desigual a Pérez y Capriles

  33. Ira Says:

    Anyone in opposition to Chavez has to vote for Lopez to rock the boat–and see what happens when he wins.

    As the “banned” candidate, it is basically the other opposition candidates’ DUTY to withdraw and support Lopez. Not doing so simply exposes their individual, selfish aspirations.

    There has never been a candidate banned for running in the U.S. The fact that the rest of the VZ field will “happily campaign” against Lopez–knowing that his election won’t be certified–is DISGUSTING.

    Once again, Chavez wins–because the opposition, and the VZ electorate in general, are total idiots.

    • CharlesC Says:

      OTOH-Lopez is a “straw man arguement” and since
      Venezuela will not allow him on the ballot-then,
      voting for Lopez -forfeits your vote.
      A vote for any of the other 3 candidates is for a
      candidate allowed to participate and therefore-
      any of which could/maybe they will get enough votes to
      win against Chavez.Be realistic.
      This is not a poker game-calling Chavez bluff -will not work
      esp. at the ballotbox

  34. firepigette Says:

    Bob the Builder,

    Ledezma was ruined by those who suffer from the dinosaur meme,Those would prefer a fresh face, even if dirty, to an honest dinosaur.

    Ledezma might have been the only ‘dinosaur’ who was not prone to excessive corruption ; and remember Chavez was also elected by those suffering from the same said meme.So let us not ere on the side of pride,while will still have time to repent 🙂

  35. bobthebuilder Says:

    I honestly thought Ledezma had pulled out long ago… or perhaps he should have done.

  36. Carolina Says:

    By the way and talking about looks, I think all of them are very good looking, especially when compared to java the hut.

  37. island canuck Says:

    I know this is OT however they are 2 gems in English from Google News:

    (1) Chávez: “Gaddafi is for Libya what Bolívar is for us”

    The gift that keeps on giving!

    (2) Chávez Goes After the Islands of Venezuela’s Rich — and Their Yachts,8599,2097735,00.html

    • CharlesC Says:

      Did Chavez actually sleep in the tent with Quadaffi? I thought I read he did..
      And, when Chavez was in Libya for days- very nearby the palace was discovered a burial area where people tortured by Quadaffi’s assistants
      (-burned, beaten, shot, etc.) mass graves there-wonder if Chavez witnessed
      any of this- strange things happened around Quadaffi’s compound…

    • CharlesC Says:

      Chavez insults Venezuelan history and disrespects Bolivar.
      THis is treason against Venezuela.

      • Kepler Says:

        Bugger off Chávez, but bugger off Bolívar as well (even if less than Chávez).

        Venezuelans need to learn real history. Bolívar’s personality cult and shameless propaganda machinery was started by Bolívar himself.

        • Carolina Says:

          Agreed. Ask German Carrera Damas about it.

          • Kepler Says:

            Carolina, cool you mention him.

            I have been adding a little bit about the cult to Bolívar in the Simón Bolívar article in Spanish Wikipedia.
            I am reading a book by a German historian (thus, not German Carrera but a German) on Bolívar and I will be putting there more details on that.
            It’s good at least some people read about that.

            • Carolina Says:

              I have.
              I also studied back in the day how, starting with Guzman Blanco – up to where I know – land after with el cabito and the most caudillo of all, Juan Vicente Gomez, used politically the figure of Bolivar to create a national icon in order to unite a country split by local caudillos and lack of roads, so all the transportation had to be by the ocean.

              Nobody asks why there is on Plaza Bolivar in every single town in Venezuela, or our coin is the Bolivar, and so many other things! It’s like they have been like that since the beginning of times just because.

              I know you have mentioned that this cult started with Bolivar himself, I would like to read more about that.

      • Escualidus Arrechus Says:

        Don’t be ridiculous. The day “insulting history” is a crime is the day Venezuelans are too stupid to live.

  38. firepigette Says:

    Machismo is a kissing cousin of Cuadillismo and until we see a lessening of Machismo we will continue with our caudillistic tendencies.

    But machismo is so ingrained in the culture that for many people it is hard to even see it.

    I noticed it the first week I moved to San Juan de los Morros….all the women openly agreeing with the men while secretly disagreeing 🙂 Also many assumed they had no right to relax and have fun.Only the men sat around and played music and drank while the women cooked and cleaned.When I joined the men( as I am a musician) the women resented it….

    Later in Caracas, I saw time after time, men running out on their wives,and women scrambling to please their husbands as though any minute they were going to lose them if they didn’t measure up to younger or more beautiful women.Pathetic!!!

    It may take time for women to come to a clearer view of this picture.Anything we get used to is not always easy to see.

    • moctavio Says:

      Yes, but Maria Corina is a woman, but she may not be the right woman. There is a lot of machismo in Venezuela, and men may not be ready to vote for a woman President, but to me that has little to do with her being a candidate that women should vote for. I think that politically she is too young, too right wing and inexperienced to be President, the same way that I think Pablo Perez is younger and more inexperienced than the other two, who also happen to be fairly young and with more, albeit limited experience also.

      • captainccs Says:

        Miguel, I wonder if “too right wing” is your biggest objection. It’s time to do the “right” thing in Venezuela. We have had over 50 years of the “left” thing to no avail, we are still down the crapper.

        Albert Einstein said that doing the same thing over and over again expecting to get different results is a sign of insanity. Socialism is insane! Let’s start doing the “right” thing for a change!

        • moctavio Says:

          No, I dont think those type of policies sell in Venezuela. Decades of left wing indoctrination have completely distorted how Venezuelans see the world. Someone needs to defend those ideas, but I dont think they will take you to victory, second place or even third place. Look I consider myself a libertarian, that should give you an idea.

    • Carolina Says:

      I’m a true believer than if “we WOMEN” want to change things, then we have to stop thinking and stop talking as “we WOMEN”.

      FP, I think that what you are talking about is feminism as its best, which is just as bad as machismo.

      I don’t think MCM is strong enough quite yet to face somebody like Chavez.

      If I would like to see a woman running, I would prefer to see someone like Mercedes Pulido de Briceño, for example.

      • Kepler Says:

        I want to see Bruni running for president, but she can’t now as she is also Canadian.

        • Carolina Says:

          Since when somebody with dual citizenship can’t run for president?? i think you’re wrong.

          • Kepler Says:

            Unfortunately, I think I am right.

            “Artículo 227. Para ser elegido Presidente o Presidenta de la República se requiere ser venezolano o venezolana por nacimiento, no poseer otra nacionalidad, ser mayor de treinta años, de estado seglar y no estar sometido o sometida a condena mediante sentencia definitivamente firme y cumplir con los demás requisitos establecidos en esta Constitución.”

        • CharlesC Says:

          I wnted Yulia Tymoshenko, but she is in prison…
          Look- I encourage all to reconsider Maria Machado-
          she’s great. Very educated. Will be great for
          Venezuela. Personally, I want to see big change in 2012.
          The whole world will be watching…

        • bruni Says:

          JAJA! Don’t worry Kepler, we’ll change the Consitutition to allow Presidents with multiple nationalities…

          Lets say, seriously, that if I had a tiny chance I would consider it!

          I WILL have a program ready, not only on the Internet, Miguel, but also handed out in pamphlets. I would base my program on three axes: education, health and public safety. I would remove as many controls as possible from the economy BUT I will open the doors to foreign competition.

          How about that?

          • Syd Says:

            Perfect. You’re in. Now get cracking for the next election .. after 2012. You have many, many places to visit. Of course, you’d have to say goodbye to your beloved Montreal and move back to Vz, as in very soon.

          • Carolina Says:

            You’ve got my vote doble-compatriota!

          • extorres Says:

            If you don’t kill the petrostate model, all your good actions will eventually go down the drain under a different government, perhaps even your own.

            • bruni Says:

              Don’t worry, Torres, I’ll make sure that the oil money does not enter the economy. We’ll have a special fund to pay the country’s debt. We will have to learn to function with everything else…

            • extorres Says:

              Bruni, I can’t reconcile your statement with how I understand the economy. If you use the oil money to pay debt, then the non oil money will be not be used for the debt, which is the same as paying the debt with the non oil money and letting the oil money enter the economy. So you’ve prevented nothing.

              But even without looking at the fungible aspects of oil and non oil money, what you describe is a very regressive way of paying the debt: the richest Venezuelan would be pitching in with the same amount of that oil money as the poorest Venezuelan! And, as a group, the poor would be paying the largest portion of the debt!

              There is no way around it; if the government gets to spend the oil money as if it had been taxed money, then the petrostate model will loom until doom.

              So, I worry.

            • extorres Says:

              Bruni, putting it simply, your way of paying the debt implies that the poorest 99% of the population will pay 99% of the debt.

    • Syd Says:

      MCM can navigate through any pack of alpha males without difficulty and without making it a big deal. She speaks with considerable authority and can rattle off the facts without hesitation. The day that MCM sees machismo as a challenge is the day she’s lost the battles.

      There’s plenty of group mysogynistic tendencies in many top national economies around the world, which in turn, don’t display caudillismo.

      So no, I see no parallel between machismo and caudillismo. Where you’re likely to find more elements of caudillismo is in countries with a low level of education.

  39. MasterBlog Says:

    I believe Capitalismo Popular is what Hernan Buchi did in Chile in the days after the Chicago Boys. In essence fostering the necessary conditions on the ground- fiscal, legal, etc. – so that small businesses can thrive. Does she also include the privatization of the industrial assets now controlled by the state, including PDVSA, in this “ideology”?

    As many have already stated, I think -hope!- we will be hearing more of their plans in the coming months. We will stay tuned…

    • moctavio Says:

      They are all scrambling for funds right now and trying to set up national organizations, the “capitalismo popular” idea is nothing more than a slogan at this time, think Fernando De Soto, Buchi and those ideas, but nothing specific yet.

  40. captainccs Says:

    Renny Ottolina was sifrino and everybody loved him. What counts is a message of hope that voters can believe in. Charisma counts an awful lot.

    Having been involved in business in Venezuela I can state that fiscally our women are a lot more sensible than our machos. I don’t know if MCM has what it takes but Golda Meir and Margaret Thatcher and many other women have been very good at running their countries. MCM comes across as a no nonsense pragmatist but I sure would like to know what “capitalismo popular” is supposed to be.

    • moctavio Says:

      So far it is only a catchy phrase, I understand what she means, empowering the individual, but it is short on details.

      • captainccs Says:

        Ramón practiced “capitalismo popular.” Ramón put his four or five kids through the university as well as his wife. Ramón is the only uneducated one in his family but he plays dominos OK. What does Ramón do for a living? Capitalismo popular. He owns and operates a business making parrilla in a truck about a block from my old office.

        If only the damn government would get out of the way, people have the street smarts to be capitalists on the scale Ramón is a capitalist. Small business is what drives a country but it’s big oil that lines the pockets of politicians so screw small business! We really should plug up and cap all those damn oil wells. We’d be better off!

        • CharlesC Says:

          Maybe those who don’t know about “capiitalismo popular”
          are more comfortable with bartar -Chavez style
          re.sucre -(which I call trading kisses) which is what
          Venezuela does with Cuba and other ALBA countries-ha.

      • Deanna Says:

        When I hear “capitalismo popular”, I get the feeling that she’s talking about micro-enterprise (family style) which, by the way, is how most big enterprises have begun. I give as examples, the NY vegetable and fruit sellers in the streets of NY, the licensed food vendors, etc.

        • Maria Gonzalez Says:

          I saw another good example of “capitalismo popular” while living in Germany last year. I lived in an area with three really good Vietnamese (sp?) restaurants. They were small, run by several family members (cook waiters) very friendly and cheap for the quality of food. A German told me that when the wall felt Vietnamese were mostly vendors of cigarettes in the metro and train stations. She was very happy to see how they have improve there quality of life and became restaurant owners.

          I met MCM in the Pto Rico airport few months ago. I introduced myself and she was very friendly. Yes I do not think that her encounter with WB is one of her best moments…but I do not think she is more stiff than ECR or PP. The difference is than the guys have political experience that MCM does not have. LL can be charming but I can also see his “mini-caudillo” tendencies.

          …and again nobody has told me why she is more sifrina than ECR or LL. Which I do not see how an impediment to become a good candidate…I just waht to hope that people in Venezuela is tired of the “chavacaneria” of the comandantepresidente…but maybe that is the problem the only way to have another president than Chavez is to look for a “Chavacano” candidate…OMG!

          • Kepler Says:

            María, if you don’t see how Machado is more sifrina than Capriles and López, then you are a sifrina yourself :-). Don’t take it as something negative. It is just a feature like being left-handed.

            You don’t really have to speak “chabacano” not to be sifrino. Standard North-Central Venezuelan Spanish does not need to be sifrino. Sifrino has to do with the intonation, more than anything else.

            As I said: Capriles may have a lot more money than Capriles, but somehow he sounds less sifrino. Again: it is the intonation, how pitch goes up and down, use of longer or shorter vowels (vowel length is fluid in Spanish, unlike English or German, but you can play with it to convey your idiolect or your mood).

            – It’s her specific r (not always)
            – its the way stressed vowels come specially long even in rather normal speech (this comes very very often)
            -its the way she pronounces o more to the front
            – its her final d as voiceless /t/ (although this does not seem to be natural)

            Finally, something that strikes me: Machado seems to be speaking to poor people only since last year or so, whereas Capriles seems to have spent a lot of time with them, not just talking to them but listening to them and getting like in that picture, or playing basket with them, whereas she looks always so clean, so spotless.

            Same as Capriles goes for López, even though I can detect right away his “I have Bolívar’s blood” look when I see him, which I don’t like at all.
            Somehow when Machado is speaking to a poor I fear any time she will say: “Miriam, tráeme un juguito, por favoooor”.

            Pérez parece que estuviera todo el tiempo arrecho y que te quisiera entrar a coñazos por cualquier cosa.

            • Maria Gonzalez Says:

              Maybe I have a different definition about sifrina…but the original “sifrina de Caurimare” was related no only to the way that people talk, but to a social status…I was in my early twenties when the song of the sifrina came popular…No I don’t think that I talk or act as a sifrina…since I coming from a lower middle class (Av Victoria cerca del Peaje) were a sifrina will be in dangerous to receive ” some verbal carajazos” really fast. However, if you define sifrino/a as a way to talk this clarify the differences that you see between the candidates. Now you can’t deny that all the other candidates have been involved in electoral campaigns before and all them have be politicians for a longer time. Machado is learning fast and maybe her stiffness is a auto-defense to make sure that she can be taking seriously…most of the people that read this post probably have a recessive form of the Venezuela “machista gene”…but the dominant form of the gene is very abundant among Venezuelans…females and males!

              About your comment about “Miriam, tráeme un juguito, por favoooor”.I think you are being a little unfair…but again perceptions are important. Also maybe MCM does not talk to people inthe barrio the same way that she talks in the Assembly. I am guilty of that, I would not talk the same if I going to a bank to ask for a loan than if I visit a friend…(in what ever language I speak). Good to chat with you!

          • Syd Says:

            The exchange between you, Maria, and Kepler is interesting. Thank you. As a woman, I would probably enjoy meeting MCM and having un cafecito with her. But as someone trying to see the overall picture, I see MCM’s liabilities as follows:

            First, she has a delicate tactile touch so that, instead of giving a good abrazo to Fulana and her family from M&C (monte y culebra), after meeting and discussing one thing or another, she keeps her distance, delicately fingering their shoulders. Distancia y categoría, sabes?

            I suspect that if MCM were to hone her political skills in the next 6+ years, she’d gradually lose some of that reserve. And that’s important in Venezuelan politics, where you just HAVE to connect with people in M&C. Not as an object, not as a pretty thing, but as one who really makes an effort to understand, and can be seen as very approachable. Someone who likes (most) people from ALL walks of life. (Hola Yajaira! Cómo estás? Y la familia?) The day I see a sincere, warm and real abrazo between MCM and Yajaira is the day I’ll say, yep, you’re ready for the big stage. Though not so fast, because …

            Second, MCM does not yet have enough political experience — for the presidency.

            Third, I agree with Kepler, who has the intonation specifics of sifrinospeak down pat. (It comes across to me as a bit of whine.) Shaking this off is going to be much harder to do, over time. But I think it is possible. So long as liability number one is overcome.


            HCR and LL are not whiny in speech, nor as reserved in their behaviour. They connect with the pueblo much more readily (LL making more expansive efforts than HCR in M&C).

            Of the three, HCR has the most political experience at a national (governorship) level.

            Of the three, LL probably has the most “brío” to rein in the military.


            PP and his Adecos are a continuation of the guachafita. Guisolandia is beginning to percolate. Earlier, I thought that PP had the strongest presence and the most pueblo experience of all to knock down Chavez and keep the military in line.


            And now a word about collaterals.

            LL’s wife, Lilian Tintori, should be less vocal. For it comes across as someone who uses her husband’s growing political influence, before it’s legitimately owned, to gain centre stage and push the envelope. It’s somewhat confusing, if not annoying. That doesn’t mean she can’t do things behind the scenes. I just think that her very vocal activism is not a comfort factor, when I’m considering one (rather than a twofer) candidate.

            PP shouldn’t be using his kid(s) to gain political brownie points. The manipulation is transparent and doesn’t to the child any favours.

            Just my opinion.

            • CharlesC Says:

              Syd, you must be a teacher and a writer.
              Interesting you mentioned “brio” for LL.I think that would be
              good for Foreign Minister for example for Lopez.
              “handling the military- that is a huge subject. Wow!
              (I hope the next admin. fires at least half the generals, sends all
              Cubans packing, cuts defense spending by 90%, cancels every weapons contract in sight, -just for starters).
              Glad you see the light concerning PP.
              I have nothing bad to say and no further comments about
              Capriles -I think he is in 1st by far..
              Back to Maria Machado-I can “let Maria be Maria” and accept
              her for who she is and I believe she has the most to offer in
              turning Venezuela sharply away from Chavez’s path.
              The international community will greet her with open arms and
              business will return strongly to Venezuela. I believe Venezuela
              will reap the most benefit and quicker with Machado as President
              after 2012.

  41. Kepler Says:

    For me Machado’s gender is absolutely irrelevant…if anything, I would perhaps prefer her – if all things were equal – to the others. I prefer her above Pérez and actually above López at a personal level. I just try to imagine what chances she has compared to Capriles and López to be selected by Yusilady Pacheco of Punto Fijo or Acarigua. My impression is that those those persons (their having testicles is absolutely irrelevant, I say) seem to look more “average” even if Capriles’ family probably has more dosh than Machado’s.

    So: I am trying to see what’s our best horse.
    López has more this intinct of getting to San Carlos or Guacara and making people feel like at home. But when I see his eyes I say: oh, my God, this is caudillo square.

    Y caudillismo es una de las cosas que nos ha estado jodiendo.

    As I said, I would vote for any one of them.

    • CharlesC Says:

      “So: I am trying to see what’s our best horse.”
      THe best is the one that overturns Chavez -and that is definitely Machado.
      However, Capriles is portraying himself as very mature
      and balanced.

      • moctavio Says:

        I dont think Machado has any chance in a one to one race against Chavez

        • CharlesC Says:

          If people wake up and see the reality that a vote for
          Machado is an opportunity to choose the opposite
          of Chavez- think about it. An “-opportunity”-
          a chance to express a total change in one
          moment with one vote.

  42. firepigette Says:

    Whoever says that MCM cannot be popular because she is sifrino is blind :)LL and Capriles are equally sifrino.

    MCM doesn’t present a specific plan? Since when does el pueblo understand plans and economics?She can surround herself by those who do know if she has the character to do so.

    The problem with MCM is inherited…inherited from the very machista culture from which she comes.

    If half the Venezuelan population( women) were to unite and defend their gender for once, she would win.It’s as simple as that, and that day will come.I have patience, I don’t believe in enforcing anything.The same organic flow of life itself will bring it about.

    I am not accusing every Venezuelan man of outright machismo, because all are not, but a huge amount are, and quite a few women are also to blame for this.It takes 2 to tango.

    • moctavio Says:

      Should women like her because she is a woman? I dont think so, the truth is she speaks well, but is not very simpatica, she is actually quite stiff.

      Personally I think she had a major #FAIL in the 2004 referendum and lacks a national structure to really be able to win.

    • CharlesC Says:

      I agree. It will happen. Why not now?Perfect antidote to Chavez.

  43. Bloody Mary Dry Says:

    I like very much your analysis (as I liked that posted by Kepler) but I still feel that this candidates are too “mundane” (which should be good in a normal elections) to compete against “Chavez figure”, which has been formed with a mix of myths, ultra-folklore, inmortality and a lot of “strong dictator” essence, resulting in a “supranatural” player (I’m talking about the electoral phenomenon, not Chavez as the nincompoop manager that he actually is). Apart from the increasing rejection of Chavez (based on results not on feelings) and some right movements from the Unity, I don’t have a clue about how any of this guys could win against Chavez, unless, as many have suggest, at least 70% or more actually reject Chavez at the moment of the election….. But that depends on Chavez failure in the managerial side, not on what the opposition is or does.

  44. moctavio Says:

    Yes, if I were to vote I would vote for LL in the primary

    • edgarfp Says:

      You think that LL has the experience to run a country? HCR has the experience of Miranda and obviously is a lot more difficult than Chacao. I am not saying that i am going to vote for HCR but i want to vote for LL but i think he doesn’t have enough experience.

      • moctavio Says:

        I think LL or HCR can do a much better job than Chavez. I think LL can defeat Chavez, I am not sure HCR can defeat Chavez. I think HCR has done a fair job in Miranda, not a great job. I think the two are likely to be comparable. I think each one of them should say the other would be VP if they won.

        • Carolina Says:

          95% agreed. I do think HCR can defeat Chavez if the message of the unity and backing the winner stays. I’m not sure either one could gain votes from chavismo, so it’s the same thing.

  45. edgarfp Says:

    So i guess your vote is for LL??

  46. island canuck Says:

    Everybody just take a deep breather. It’s only November 1.

    They will all reveal their positions in the coming weeks.

    Once the candidate list is complete on Friday the different personalities will begin to emerge & we’ll get a better grip on their positions.

  47. maria gonzalez Says:

    Several of you has labeled MCM as “sifrina” and people like to vote for “somebody like me”.

    If we talk about sifrinos, I think we can use the sifrino label with LL and HCR with the same “. They have been in politics longer than MCM and have more opportunity to get the “picture with el pueblo” …but they are not like “somebody like me” either.

    I am just curious how do you made this distinction?
    I just hope that is not because she is a women!….for the record I will vote for who ever wins the primaries.

    • Escualidus Arrechus Says:

      Both Lopez and Capriles Radonsky have held public office. Machado hasn’t.

      I agree with you in that she’s no more or less “sifrina” than either of them, but they do have more experience interacting with “el pueblo” in a political capacity.

    • Escualidus Arrechus Says:

      I meant to say MCM hadn’t held public office until her election to the AN, of course.

  48. Bill S. Says:

    If Mr. Lopez doesn’t win, he could always head on out to Hollywood.

  49. captainccs Says:

    Yes, bruni, it sure would be nice to know what each candidate’s platform is. Voting for the person without a known platform is a terrible idea.

  50. Eduardo Vasquez Says:

    As much as I want it to happen. HCF won´t lose the 2012 election, and the final result will be HCF 57% MUD Candidate 43%. I hope I am wrong, but presidents like the one occupying Miraflores never accept they are defeated in a peacefull way.

  51. bruni Says:

    Miguel, I went today to the websites of all the major candidates that you mention and the ONLY one that had a real PROGRAM was MCM! The others (the men) are all smiles and nice words but no actual program to know what they stand for.

    If you are so close to LL, do tell him to let us know what HIS PROGRAM IS.. Where is it written? What is he planning to do with respect to EDUCATION, HEATH, SAFETY, GOVERMENT STRUCTURE, etc.

    These are all young politicians that want to make different politics, well they should start by writing what they are going to do. MCM is doing that and I like it.

    • Kepler Says:

      Pérez is a bore. Capriles is charming compared to Pérez. Still, Capriles lacks vision and Capriles urgently needs to talk about each part of Venezuela, not about Venezuela and/or Miranda.

      Leopoldo: His programme is to have a beautiful Venezuela…or “una Venezuela bonita y linda”…a Venezuela where people can make their dreams come true…a Venezuela where people can accomplish what they want, where there is security, where people have good jobs, where people can become prosperous, where there is no scarcity, no crime…
      Yeah, that’s Leopoldo.

      Machado is just too sifrina for the general population. She has good ideas, she has done a good job at the Asamblea but she still needs more real contact with people, trying to actually listen to them. She does have good ideas.

      The hing I really dislike from Machado is this “capitalismo popular”. What on Earth is that? So far for ideologies…one thing is action plan and another ideology…she is trying to make this look like an ideology. You better stick to your guns.
      Another thing is the stress on this being a fight between socialism and capitalism.

      I dislike socialism, at least as I understand it (in the US some people would look at me as a socialist for my ideas on social care and the like) but the point is not a fight between socialism versus capitalism. Chavez is chavista, it is a personality cult around a military caudillo and a group of gangsters in red.
      Socialism and the like could have existed in the Soviet Union and its satellite states, but in Venezuela there is only a feudal petrostate ruled now by military thugs and some sample guerrilleros plus some pseudocommies who know without the military they are lost and they won’t be able to go shopping in Paris or Montreal.
      Revolution my foot.

    • moctavio Says:

      Bruni, bruni. First of all I am not that close to LL, I have been asked a few specific things. Second, Internet no sube cerro. Third, I found nothing on MCM’s website about the economy that was that specific. And a lot of what her website says is as vague. In fact, click on economia familiar and all you find is banners with no content, so she is not being specific either or has not finished it yet. Fourth, LL has a lot of very specific proposals (he would remove exchange controls :-), for example, why they are not in his website I dont know, but have heard them. So, since you are so close to MCM please tell her to fill in the blanks. 🙂

      • rojasalas Says:

        “Internet no sube cerro” rocks!

        It does´t go to the poor countryside neither. To win an election in a country like Venezuela you have to “sell a dream”, you have to be a little bit (or a lot) “populist”, and then learn how to manage the short term people expectations vs. the long term structural changes needed to “real capitalism”. CAP II did the first well, but he could´t keep the people excited.

        All of them have a lot to learn from “Lula”.

  52. CharlesC Says:

    C’mon Buster. Would you like some wolfwhistling to your wife, your mother,
    or your daughter?
    And, look at the title of this article
    “3 and 1/2” Reminds me of Moslem countries-
    (moslem women are considered 1/2 of a man)
    IF if Maria Corina Mochado does get elected- I hope the men
    grow up and learn to respect women, but maybe the question is
    =someone a little like Maria and a little like chavista?
    Fellas, I dare you- when someone disrespects Maria Mochado
    be the first to call them out for it. I am very proud of her and
    really hope she wins. I believe this would enlighten Venezuelans

  53. Buster Hymen Says:

    yea but Maria is the hottest babe in Venz….thats gotta count for something…I remember that photo of her meeting GW 43…woo hoo

  54. janine vici Says:

    i agree with your analysis 100% to the last dot. except that ii still against LL good political nose the fact that he was an abanderado of abstention for the AN voting which has brought us, the whole country- really low down the rabbit hole. and in the hands of the red applauding seals and the ringmaster. his bad…

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