As the Devil flies off, he is optimistic about Venezuela’s political future

November 4, 2011

As I leave Caracas, I must say I am a little more optimistic than last time. Ignoring Hugo’s illness, it is clear that twelve years of bad Government, Chavez’ limited ability to appear in public and a field of fresh new faces on the side of the opposition is increasing the likelyhood of an opposition victory, even if President Chavez fully recovers.

Numbers in polls are better than they were a few months ago. While Chavez still has a high approval rating, the same rating for the top three opposition candidates is higher than that of the President’s. In fact, Capriles’ approval rating tops 50%, while Chavez is 5 percentage points behind. In one poll, 56% of the voters don’t believe that the country they want is the same one Chavez wants

Individually, October polls indicate that Capriles holds a very strong lead that may be hard to erode by both Pablo Perez and Leopoldo Lopez. Lopez is new to the race, but the latest numbers don’t show him gaining ground after the favorable decision in his case by the CIDH. If voters don’t see him gaining ground, it is likely that they will migrate mostly to Capriles.

For Pablo Perez to have a a chance he has to get closer than he is right now in polls. Even the AD and COPEI machinery will not be able to make up the 15% difference that separates him from Henrique Capriles.

Primaries are having an impact on the overall race, candidates are in the news permanently and the faces are not only new, but the message of unity and non-confrontation seems to be having an important impact on people. Similarly, the Government’s coordination seems diminished, Government official no longer seem to have a coherent attack on the opposition, which I ascribe to Chavez’ limited ability to meet, plan strategy and appear in public.

A remote and virtual Chavez will not be the formidable opponent he once was. PSUV still has a machinery, but Chavismo without Chavez does not exist. If he does not recover sufficiently to campaign fully, this will help the opposition even more. I have learned little of his illness while here, but heard nothing to indicate he is better or out of danger.

I am less optimistic about the “day after”. While we may talk about macroeconomic, devaluation, increasing the price of gasoline and the like, those are the “easy” solutions to implement. The tough part will be how to deal with a State now in the hands of Chavista unions, most without collective agreement and demanding huge salary increases. This State now includes hundreds of state enterprises, most of  them shut down or receiving huge subsidies and run by corrupt mafias who are there just earning salaries or making deals for themselves personally. I talked to at least three people in such organizations that see no way out of the conflict and problems of trying to get anything moving in these companies, where there are no bosses, no hierarchy and no clear goal of what their purpose is.

Thus, I leave optimistic on the political future, not so much on the ability of the new Government to get a large part of the Government moving. Sure there will be improvements and efficiencies, but conflicts will be the rule of the day and if the opposition were to win Chavismo will be waiting at every corner to boycott the new Government’s actions with cheap politics.

Long time readers of this blog know that every three years I go wherever the World Orchid Conference may be. This year it is in Singapore, so I am off to that part of the world for a couple of weeks. I will try not to post, not to read much about Venezuela, but you never know. If I have internet, maybe I should imitate Daniel’s posts with pictures of where I am, to see if people can guess the location.

Back in two weeks!

56 Responses to “As the Devil flies off, he is optimistic about Venezuela’s political future”

  1. Dr. Faustus Says:

    m_astera Says:

    November 10, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    “What chemotherapy does, among other things, is to destroy the person’s immune system. ….”

    That’s a valid point. Chavez ‘should have’ been kept away from most people because his immune system is depleted. So, what gives? Step back and ponder this for a moment,….Does Hugo Chavez (assuming the rumour to be true) know that he is dying? That may sound like a silly question, but considering the insanity which revolves around this particular government, I think a logical one. Are they keeping the seriousness of his illness from him? Perhaps. Perhaps not. I think it is much more logical to assume that he does ‘know,’ and he is about to do something dramatic. What event is about to take place in which a megalomanic can strut upon the world stage and make his mark on Venezuelan history? Easy. On December 2-3 every leader from South America, Central America and the Caribbean will be in Venezuela for the CLACS conference. It will be his final act, his … Goetterdaemmerung. It’s an event to watch….

    • m_astera Says:

      Assuming he is even capable of participating in or attending said conference, he might plan to decree something which no one will follow through on, except maybe some Cubanos. I think he’s toast.

  2. m_astera Says:

    What chemotherapy does, among other things, is to destroy the person’s immune system. If Chavez has been given full doses now, chances are he is already dead or close to it. So forget about him. What’s next?

  3. Dr. Faustus Says:

    Some thoughts here….

    ON: megaescualidus Says:

    It is generally understood that most blogs, especially those dealing in politics, have a heavy tendancy towards “rumours.” There’s no getting away from them. Some are plausible, some have kernals of truth in them and many are simply outrageous. I think everyone needs to step back for a moment and take a hard look at this one. It may be the most significant piece of scuttlebutt to emerge from the onset of the Bolivarian Revolution over a decade ago.

    Is Hugo Chavez really dying? Robert Noriega seems convinced of that fact. His statements were picked-up by the Miami Herald this morning and given a wider media audience. His claimed source was very specific as to the health status of Hugo Chavez. Not only was he, Chavez, not given a full dose of chemotherapy during his past visits to Cuba, but it appears that the the fast-spreading cancer cells in his bones have yet to be dealt with. If Noriega is wrong on the allegations of his source, we should know the truth within the next 4 to 8 weeks. Chavez’s physical appearance cannot be hidden from the general public. Noriega has staked his public reputation on this rumour. I think he’s right. I think this is a huge story, one of the most important in all of South America. Pay attention!

    • island canuck Says:

      Even though I believe that what we have been hearing about “miracles” and “magic cures” is pura paja it would be in the best interest of the candidates to assume his good health and attack him as hard as possible.

      It looks like there is going to be an open debate among the MUD candidates & it would be a good time to really start tearing the emperor apart. If he says that he’s cured then it’s open territory.

      A little humour for a Thursday evening. I assume that VTV will carry the debate in the interest of providing all Venezuelans with a fair & balanced option.

      Ha, ha, ha. Sorry, I got carried away.

  4. Dr. Faustus Says:

    If anyone is still reading this blog, you had better read this!

    Oh my. This is a reliable source.

    Very important news….! Read it.

    • megaescualidus Says:

      Why should we believe Noriega’s information is “more privileged” than Dr Navarrete’s? Noriega can say anything he feels like, and if it turns out he was wrong, no big deal. On the other hand, Navarrete’s prognosis (really perhaps more an informed opinion than a prognosis based on hard data from medical exams on “the patient”) is more conservative (2yr vs 6mo) and he personally had much more to loose than Noriega. Navarrete is now living in exile, and at best, if his opinion turns out to be correct he will only be able to return to Venezuela in 2yr.

      I don’t necessarily believe any of the two opinions, but of the two I believe Noriega’s the least.

      In fact, I will only believe 100% “the patient” was dying from cancer when the patient is dead (from cancer) and buried.

  5. island canuck Says:

    Well it looks like Miguel’s prediction might just come to pass.

    “El ex embajador de Estados Unidos ante la OEA, Roger Noriega, aseguró que los médicos que llevan el caso del presidente Hugo Chávez no esperan “que pueda sobrevivir más de seis meses”. Indicó que en el oficialismo “tienen miedo de que sus seguidores más fervientes se sientan traicionados una vez que la supuesta ‘recuperación del cáncer’ salga a la luz como una gran mentira”.”

    “Former U.S. ambassador to the OAS, Roger
    Noriega said that doctors who take the case of
    President Hugo Chavez did not expect “that he can survive
    for six months. “He said the ruling government “fear
    that his most fervent followers feel
    once betrayed the supposed ‘recovery
    cancer ‘comes to light as a big lie. “” (Google translate)

    • CharlesC Says:

      It may be true -“Hugo Chavez did not expect “that he can survive
      for six months” but how does Roger know this?

      I posted some quotes from the article -which I labeled as “sensible”
      for Venezuela- I believe the only way to “fix” Venezuela -even after
      Chavez- is with US assistance. And, cooperation from friendly countries.

  6. CharlesC Says:

    Some sensible Quotes from Hugo Chavez’s Big Lie by Roger Noriega-

    1″There are some crucial issues where only leadership from Washington will suffice. For example, Venezuelan narco-generals must be isolated so they cannot thwart a peaceful transition, and those military officers loyal to the constitution must be bolstered. Havana, Beijing, Moscow, and Teheran must be put on notice to step aside as Venezuelans reclaim their future.

    2. Washington must develop a long-term plan to help Venezuelans clean up the toxic waste of terrorists, narcotraffickers, corruption, and Cuban agents that Chávez will leave behind.

    3. The inter-American community should pledge to assist the rehabilitation of the economy and the restoration of the rule of law ” (After Chavez.)

  7. Ty Says:

    I just caught this on YouTube and it is so germane to your points about the “Revolution” and what has happened to Venezuela under the rule of Hugo. Someone please tell me this video is wrong, it looks so horrifying to see what has happened to Venezuela between 1998 and 2005, I con only imagine that the current state of affairs is only worse.

    • deananash Says:

      Miguel, perhaps you could find a young photographer to collaborate with you to do a 2012 update to this video (1998-2005-2012) and post it so that everyone can see it. (A lot of regular people don’t read the comments as us fanatics do.)

      Any budding Venezuelan photographers out there? If you’ll contact me and send me the pictures, I’ll work them into this video.

  8. Copyright! Copyright!

  9. Carolina Says:

    Have a great trip MO.

  10. TechJetSet Says:

    Miguel, Singapore is building this amazing urban garden center that is “beyond Green” in every since of the environmental and ecological terms for “green”. It is just mind blowing and a real inspiration. The orchids are not bad either! :O)

  11. Dutch Vandervort Says:

    I am a Gringo who fell in love with Venezuela in the mid ’90’s — hopefully it will one day regain the lost ground!

    Surely you know know my friends at Plantio La Orqidea – another friend is Harry Luther at the Singapore Botanic Garden. He, too is a friend of Venezuela!

    Dutch Vandervort
    San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

  12. deananash Says:

    MIguel, I wish I could share your optimism, but I can’t. (See definition of pessimist above, then talk to Miami’s oldest Cubans. Ask them to reflect on how many times they thought Castro would be gone ‘next’ year.

    While I agree that Chavez isn’t as smart as Castro, Chavez has a huge advantage, income from oil.

    And Chavez does own the ballot boxes. He simply isn’t leaving via the vote. Post Chavez, I’m betting on a military coup, focused on their own, corrupt power.

    In other words, I still believe that Venezuela is screwed for the next couple of decades, if not longer, no matter what. I’ve been saying that Chavez isn’t going anywhere for many years here in your comments section. Till now, I’m batting 1.000 – I hope to be wrong about this sooner than later, but I doubt it.

    Have a safe trip.

  13. andre Says:

    Devil you are great – always a pleasure reading you!! Wish you great 2 weeks.

  14. CharlesC Says:

    How about some traveling music por el Diablo?

  15. CharlesC Says:

    Reports of “devil sightings” are coming in from around the world.
    Maybe it is time for us lowly earthlings to have a party?
    Many causes of celebration.
    And, cheers to Colombians for zapping another FARC leader.
    (No, I am not drinking. It is Saturday night.)
    For myself-it is going to be a long 2 weeks.
    The past months have been great here-lots of
    “thrashing and trashing” =this is how we express our love-ha?
    I will wager -the devil will be sending pictures and photos.
    This is the digital age- the Devil is still with us-ha.

  16. Gringo Says:

    Enjoy your well-deserved vacation.

  17. bruni Says:

    Pictures please..or we will have to fire you as the designated orchid blogger…

    Enjoy your trip!

  18. CharlesC Says:

    History tells robbers rarely “just go away”. They continue robbing
    and have to be jailed, hanged, or killed. Most usually waste the money
    and therefore “need” more. Or, just rob for fun…
    Maybe Chavez is “reborn”, a “new man”?
    If Chavez IS- then shouldn’t he set about cleaning up the mess he
    created and – reprogramming his followers-don’t think that is what
    is happening, do you?

  19. CharlesC Says:

    Orchids- symbolize rare beauty, elegence.

    The word “orchid” is derived from the Greek word “orchis,” meaning “testicle.” Ancient Greeks thought they could control the sex of an unborn child by eating different types of orchid roots.

    The Chinese believed that orchids had healing properties, particularly against illnesses affecting the heart. Orchids may also have signified refinement and innocence.

    I think I read -over 13,000 varieties of orchids?
    I know a biology professor who retired to Thailand to study orchids..

  20. Noel Says:

    Miguel, I think you are right to be cautiously optimistic. First, the current regime is highly personalized and it seems unlikely that Hugo Chavez will be healthy enough to run for a new term, and even then, to be able to carry out his 24/7 governing style. Second, information circulates in Venezuela, and it must be plain to most that their neighbors (Brazil, Colombia) are faring better without being “imperialist stooges”. Finally, there always comes a point for accountability and I think it is coming. Trends always seem to following a straight line, until they form an inflection point. Fujimori did more good things than bad ones in Peru, yet his inner circle couldn’t hang on to power when he was gone.

  21. Charly Says:

    If you have a chance, go next door to Kuala Lumpur, one hour flight, 5 hours first class bus from Singapore. They have a beautiful orchid garden there You can even purchase some if you want.

  22. Roy Says:

    Pessimist (Def.): An optimist, with experience.

  23. firepigette Says:

    Have a great trip!

  24. Juan Cristóbal Nagel Says:

    Godspeed Miguel. May your optimism be well-founded.

  25. Virginia Laffitte Says:

    Keep these coming!

  26. loroferoz Says:

    I can only hope that the new president will see clearly.

    Dealin properly with chavista unions, money-hemorrhaging state enterprise, the sense of entitlement to free gasoline, bus fare and cheap dollars… that will take some time. Let Mercal be. Let CADIVI sell dollars at a loss for a while. Give the state enterprises money for a while.

    Keep all the social programs too. Try to make them more efficient if at all possible.

    But on the other hand, the coercive parts of State Socialism can be dealt with, at once, and for all with minimum political loss and great economic gain. Take the pressure off the back of private enterprise. Reduce bureaucracy and bureaucratic requisites for exportation and importation. Make the ‘crats do make-work to earn their salary, instead of extorting their income out of of private parties. Rescind all the recent, Socialist laws. Let a legal free market in foreign currencies operate (anyhow imports and street prices operate on black market exchange rates). Liberalize the radio and tv spectrum.

    Liberalize whenever possible. This will have the effect of preventing a return to chavismo.

    • CharlesC Says:

      elzorrofo-either way you spell it. I like what you say.
      I like it a lot!!
      “Make the ‘crats do make-work to earn their salary, instead of extorting their income out of of private parties. Rescind all the recent, Socialist laws. ”
      Beautiful! Have a nice day, Mr.loroferoz.:)

  27. captainccs Says:

    >>>you are going to have to leave anyway.

    We all love an optimist! 😉

  28. Cort Greene Says:

    Take my advice and stay their, you are going to have to leave anyway.

  29. captainccs Says:

    Devil, tell us how it is in the Singapore Heaven!

  30. bobthebuilder Says:

    Sounds like your counting your chickens etc. It appears there may be a government sponsored investigation in to opposition campaigning resources. I’m surprised that the government has let HCR get as far as he has without launching a big counter offensive. May be this is it?

  31. GeronL Says:

    I am hoping you are right in being optimistic but I have doubts simply judging from history. Maybe after the primary (if the unity doesn’t crack afterwards) the winner can offer important roles to the others.

    Someone should be put in charge of denationalizing industries, returning expropriated properties back to their rightful owners. Things like that.

  32. Mercedes Says:

    Have fun.

  33. pessimistic Says:

    He still controls the voting boxes

    • megaescualidus Says:

      HC won’t loose (even if the oppos win). There’s too many parties invested on him staying in power (the Cubans, for example, the militias, “los enchufados”, etc. etc.). The only thing that can change things is his ilness. Go ahead. Call me a pessimist all you want. My comment is based (extrapolated from) only 12+ years of Chavista government (nightmare, rather).

  34. liz Says:

    Buen viaje Diablo!

  35. CharlesC Says:

    I wish I were as optomistic. When someone/something/Venezuela
    has a problem like this for 12+ years- I am not sure if
    the remedy (the opposition) is the cure. We need a doctor.
    (A doctor of psychiatry-not a witch doctor like we have already)
    Very sick government -full of very sick chavistas -even without
    their cult leader,remains another huge mess to clean up and heal..
    My first thought is -purging. Who will that start with and where will
    it end-if it happens at all…

  36. island canuck Says:

    Enjoy your vacation & your orchids

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