Capriles Accepts Challenge Against Nicolas In Venezuela’s Election

March 11, 2013

A forceful Henrique Capriles went on TV last night and accepted the challenge to run against Venezuela’s interim President Nicolas Maduro, in a speech that quickly proved what I suggested on Saturday: Politics is back in Venezuela now that Chavez is absent.

Capriles was extraordinary in a very strong speech, which was carefully thought out. At all times, Capriles was very respectful of Hugo Chavez and fairly dismissive of Nicolas Maduro, whom he referred to as Nicolas or “Nicolas, chico” all the time. In one of his best lines, Capriles said, “Nicolas is not Chavez and you all know it, even Chavez complained about those that surrounded him and those are the people that want to govern you”

He noted that the Government and Nicolas had been lying to the people and he was very inclusive, saying he was not running for himself or to get power, but because he wanted Venezuela to do better. He offered a Government for all.

On the lying, he suggested that Chavez had been dead a while, asking how come all of the t-shirt and flags were ready for the funeral and support for Nicolas.

He blasted the Minister of Defense, not only for his illegal support of Nicola’s candidacy, but also he told him he was a disgrace, finishing next to last in his military class.

He had very unkind words for the Head of the Electoral Board, who wore a revolutionary arm band at Chavez’ funeral an asked her for respect, not for him, but for the Venezuelans who are not Chavistas and for the law.

By being forceful and confrontational, Capriles was not only re-energizing the voters, was clearly choosing a different campaign strategy than the one against Chavez. He knew then he had to be respectful of Chavez and he is ever more respectful now, but now he is completely critical of Nicolas and his cohorts. Capriles also seems to recognize that politics changed in Venezuela when Hugo Chavez passed away on March 5th.

And that this is the case was proven immediately, when Nicolas could not wait and had to respond to Capriles within the hour, something Chavez would have never done. Nicolas came and tried to blast Capriles, but his speech was too forced. And in a clear sign that Chavismo is worried about participation in the upcoming election, Nicolas announced that on the same day there will be a referendum to change the Constitution so that Chavez can be buried in the Panteon Nacional immediately. This was clearly a ploy to have the Chavista rank and file more involved in the upcoming election, but Capriles and the opposition can simply bypass the issue by backing the referendum and saying that if the people want it, it should be done.

But more importantly, Nicolas’ speech demonstrated what a weak candidate and poor politician he is. The campaign is too short for Capriles to overcome the abuse of power of Chavismo and the sympathy vote, but it seems as if Capriles had given the whole thing a lot of thought. And in the opening moments of the campaign, score one for the challenger.

66 Responses to “Capriles Accepts Challenge Against Nicolas In Venezuela’s Election”

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  2. Roger Says:

    Just when you think all this is way out there. This turns up.. For me it would be that God grants Forgiveness but, I guess I missed that Cadena! Also, I hope the new Papa will remember that Fidel Castro was Ex-communicated two or so times. I don’t know, perhaps Chavez managed to wiggle around Cannon Law just like he did with the TSJ!

  3. Ira Says:

    All I know is, if Miguel isn’t working on at least 10 paragraphs right now about today’s announcement that they won’t be able to embalm the hideous one for eternal viewing because they waited too long…and highlighting this Chavista failure with every OTHER Chavista failure…I’m going to be real disappointed.

    I mean, come on:

    They don’t even understand TAXIDERMY!?

    • Glenn Says:

      Hey I’m waiting for Miguels wizened views on this new “parallel” exchange rate. Awesome news! Chavez rules from the grave according to ramirez.

  4. m_astera Says:

    I think it’s very interesting that they extended the ley seca (ban on selling alcohol) for another week. I was at the grocery today for the first time in about a week and the whole area was cordoned off with three ranks of ribbons, with a paper hung every 3 meters or so saying not only no alcohol, but no carrying of armaments. Who carries a gun in Venezuela? Someone is very nervous, and being very stupid about it by shutting down all alcohol sales and all bars. For two full weeks. That isn’t going to make anyone very happy in this country. What a dumb move. Great way to turn the people against you. Who would want a-holes like that running the place?

    • island canuck Says:

      I was thinking the same thing.
      They must know something or think they know something that we don’t.

      Fortunately I stocked up on the Wednesday morning after reading in one of the on-line news reports that it was a possibility.
      Unfortunately we have foreign guests arriving today who will be disappointed. Hotels & restaurants seem to be ignoring the ruling if you are foreign.

  5. Ronaldo Says:

    Chavez had a military background and used it to increase his credibility on issues such as patriotism for his country or to project an image of power. Chavez surrounded himself with people in military uniform and quite often appeared in uniform himself.

    Maduro, on the other hand, would look like an out-of-place clown if he showed up in public wearing military garb. He has no military in his resume. Even so, I suspect it is only a matter of time and place until Maduro puts on military clothes to pretend to be a military hero like Chavez wanted to be.

  6. odef007 Says:

    Can’t add much to what has been said. Except.. I did notice in HCR speech and as a direct rebuttal to Mad-Duro constant references to HCR “doubtful” sexual preferences … HCR stated that VE belonged to all, he is there to work for all, irrelevant of Colour, religion or sexual inclination. 1st time I have heard him widen the inclusion base. ” are you homo-phobic (maduro) – you know thats an illness” ? my point is that he took a negative-turned it into an oppertunity to widen his base. Never saw this side of him. I like the ver 5.0 of HCR.
    Not to minimize the support for HCF but for the first 2 days of the vigil it was the Chabistas base that was being bused in from all over the country … 5 or 6 buses went out of Porlmar alone.
    Money & the PSU machine- before the final decree – “the king is dead” Jaua & Ramirez made separate trips to China. Almost one after the other. I say they went looking for the $$ and they were not successful. A delegation was at the Funeral. Attended the Crowning of the new King & Prince and the next thing you know they are in front of a camera @ a table with Mad-duro. It was painful to watch. 20min of just ” sympathy ” wishes on behalf of everyone in China, including the head cook at the ” No-Ching-Now” Restaurant. I’m convinced that they got placed in a situation to try and show that the VE-China pocket are alive and well. Did not happen. The strongest thing I got from the China-Delg. was that they are looking forward to future continuation of agreements. Day after 2 papers reported that Mad-duro will be visiting China right after the Elections. I don’t believe China has released any more cha-ching. They are officially and behind closed doors, not recognizing Maduros Sig. for Int’nl trade/$ agreements. So what does this do for the PSUV- voting machine? Do they spend the $ they have on Food/goods import or on Votes and they have been 100 days in power already and 30 days to go for elections. Somethings got to crack… ( guess I did have something to say ūüôā )

  7. Kepler Says:

    Apologies for my poor English.


    We definitely need to be aware of the particularities of our nation. I agree we cannot change things overnight.

    Now, I am not sure our leaders really didn’t touch the personality cult before because they were being cautious or because they didn’t have the vision or because they thought it was normal but it was not with them.

    One thing that has baffled me is their complete lack of desire to present a sound vision of something new. They, after all, present themselves as
    “better light bulb managers”.

    If we are ever going to escape from this pernicious vicious circle we need people with cojones to start talking about that.

    France had its cycles of strong personality cult waves with Napoleon I initially (and sometimes still) and with De Gaulle as well. But the country never got into the cult of personality mania we developed for years. And ours is only getting worse by the day.
    It was present before Bol√≠var, Bol√≠var put it to new levels, then P√°ez (1842 with one week morning, Bol√≠var statues everywhere, change of laws to provide for cult in the Congress), then Guzm√°n, G√≥mez…and the absolute craziness of Chavismo.

    What are we waiting for?

    We keep putting off things. I keep hearing from people “no, there is no time to educate the nation, we need to care about the next elections”.
    We are having elections every single year!

    If we need to escape this vicious circle we need to start now.

    Germany had one of the most pernicious cult of personality between 1933 and 1945.

    They have managed to get rid of that stuff most of the time, after their country was put on its knees. Do we want to wait until Venezuela gets completely destroyed to do that?

    The longer we wait, the worse it will get.

    • Noel Says:


      I agree with much of what you say, particularly about France my native country (I am American now). Changing culture is very difficult. Why is Tocqueville so often quoted if not because much of the American culture he saw is still here today? Why were his contemporary Custine’s Letters from Russia judged to be the best book on Stalin’s Soviet Union?

      As for Germany, I am not so sure that they have had a cult of personality through the ages, but it took a total national destruction to eradicate that of Hitler. What a price to pay!

      It is true that France hasnt developed the same personality cult mania as Venezuela, but I don’t think it is because we as a people are less prone to it; we just have had more time to build institutional barriers to hold us back when we get tempted. And that takes time.

      If Capriles can be a charismatic leader who will bring about a respect for democratic institutions, that is a pretty good outcome given the recent past and current political context in Venezuela.

  8. firepigette Says:

    Honest and courageous is indeed the best bet.

    Instead we get loads of oppos trying to say something good( por lo menos).

    In the beginning honesty will not go over well, but in the long run it gives the opposition more credibility and strength.

    We have to think long run, not short run.

  9. Kepler Says:

    I disagree we should be praising Ch√°vez. It is a tragedy no one of the politicians in Venezuela was criticizing the disgusting personality cult we were having already for more than a decades. It is a pity we think Chavistas and ninis will trust us a bit more just because we say “if Ch√°vez had known”.
    It is not only false, it is not even real politics.

    You are based on these “focus group studies” of people who really need these kind of studies or talk to their mujer de servicio to learn about the poor. Come on!

    What has disqualified us is every elitist remark a bunch of people have said. What has disqualified us is the fact we haven’t taken time to develop leaders who have 1) some minimal rhetorical skills and 2) are not white-Eastern Caraquenos or Valencianos or Maracuchos.

    We should not focus about Ch√°vez but we should say a personality cult is completely wrong, we should say no country has developed around such a thing. We should put Venezuela in the context of how the rest of the world is developing or not. We should discuss things honestly.

    If we had the money, we could lie. At this stage our best chance is to be honest
    and courageous.

    • Noel Says:

      Yes, the cult of personality is a dangerous thing, but you can’t change the culture of a country so easily; neither the Venezuelans nor the French for that matter will become Brits overnight, perhaps ever. A liking for a strong leader is not inconsistent with democratic progress.

      Again, take de Gaulle in France in the 60s. He achieved much, created a Constitution made for him, was rightly accused of being imperial, yet retired when voters decided that he should. Or take Uribe in Colombia.

      Our cultures tend to welcome strong leaders with personality, that is the way we are. That doesn’t mean all of them should become dictators.

      • firepigette Says:


        This has to change whether we like it or not , if we want to get rid of the abuse of a ” strong” leader.


        I invite you to think on what it really means to be strong.

        Instead of excusing Chavez, you might consider that in order to win, the opposition has to be strong, and just exactly what this strength might mean.

        These are important questions for Venezuelans to ask .

  10. Roy Says:

    BUT…. The Opposition should NOT try to win by painting a rosy picture of what they can achieve. They need to be honest with Venezuela about the damage that has been done, what is required to fix it, and how much time it will take.

    If they can’t win with that message, it is better that the Chavistas win and convince the country through complete and abject failure of the economy that maybe the Opposition knew what they were talking about after all.

    • Ronaldo Says:

      I have a gut feeling that Chavistas think everything is fine as it is today. They trusted Chavez and will trust Maduro to maintain the current conditions. They do not dream of anything better. What could be better than not to work and have the government give you free stuff?

  11. Roy Says:

    The way I see this is that there are about five million voters who voted for Chavez, not because of any ideology or political conviction, but only because they liked him, and felt that Chavez cared about them. Many of them knew very well that he and all his cronies were incompetent. But they voted for him because of personal loyalty to Chavez, not to Chavismo.

    The way I see it, all of those votes are up for grabs. Consider that along with the likelyhood that fractures in the PSUV are going to start appearing quickly, and I think that there is room for some degree of cautious optimism.

  12. Steve M Says:

    I liked the speech for many reasons, but there were some clunkers. One was, hinting that Chavez might have disapproved of the devaluation.

  13. Noel Says:

    One more argument as to why Capriles has a chance: many of those who voted for Chavez voted for a leader. Now, they still want a leader with whom they can connect emotionally. I leave the question open: which of Maduro and Capriles can best make that connection?

  14. di Says:

    It was an Ok speech
    Still plays into the early election ploy
    Nicolas will have a few Habana trips to get some quick tutorials.The referendum on the Panteon was pretty clever
    Petro State ain’t going anywhere so the voter profile will not change in such short time

  15. spanows Says:

    A quick question, who watches these speeches on Globovision? Is it national coverage and/or were other channels covering the same speech today and the one he made on Friday? (“El poder en Venezuela no se pasa por decretos, te lo digo bien claro Nicol√°s”). This speech was fantastic, you are right, very strong but will it get the coverage it needs?

  16. Full Frontal Says:

    Capriles has to go all out against the years of chavista rule showing the economic and political disaster we are in. this is not the time for niceties, as most people believe he has nothing to lose.
    On another note, does anyone have alink to the SNL skit that is not blocked?

  17. island canuck Says:

    Just to bring up a point that has been discussed here before.

    If Capriles was to win when would the inauguration be?
    Jan. 10, 2014? or sooner?

    • Ronaldo Says:

      Island Canuck,
      This will be a major concern. But look, the supreme court went against the constitution to keep Chavez as president and keep Cabello out of the presidency. They can do what ever they like it appears. I suspect that enough time will be given to Chavistas to loot everything.

  18. Slledge77 Says:

    The Chavistas and maduro, etc, will CHEAT again on the elections, and do anything, bribes, intimidation, you name it, just to stay in power and continue to steal $$$$$$.

    Brave speach by Capriles though.

    • Noel Says:

      They will do all that and perhaps more. But what nobody knows (yet everybody perceives) is that the political scene is no longer the same. I dont live in Venezuela, but I imagine that many of those who adored Chavez realized that security had deteriorated, as had public services and the economy in general. They didnt blame Chavez; I dont think that, deep down, they blamed the opposition; they blamed the “others”, the bureaucrats, the people with power who betrayed Chavez’ directives. Well, these are the guys currently trying to stay in power and Capriles is very forceful and persuasive in pointing them out. If he succeeds, their hold on public opinion could unravel quickly. His message to grassroot Chavez voters seems to be: whom do you trust to carry out what was good about Chavez policies, these guys who fumbled for years or me?

      I think nobody knows what will happen, but the distribution of outcomes seems to be widening out.

  19. Noel Says:

    The Capriles speech was very strong indeed. He does understand that he will only win if he convinces Chavez’ followers to vote for him. Clearly, Chavez not running is a major game-changer, the question is how big and how fast. Capriles will win if he can show that his opponents are the B team, having neither the popular connection nor the administrative ability to deliver progress.

  20. Ronaldo Says:

    “Two opinion polls before Chavez’s death gave Maduro a lead of more than 10 percentage points.”

    This means that if 5 percent of the Chavista voters either switch to Capriles or abstain, it will be a close election.

    Go for it Henrique.

    • Gordo Says:

      I read that the PSUV registered a million more voters. My son tried to register this morning and was told he could register, but he could not vote in this election. What does this mean?

      • Self-exiled in Canada Says:

        The CNE will be using the same list of voters used in October 7th for this presidential election. See or for further information.
        Perhaps your son can register now for the postponed municipal election. However, I don’t like the idea of allowing new voter registration for a future election at this point. You never know how the voter registry can be manipulated to allow PSUV new voters to vote in the presidential election.

      • syd Says:

        It takes about 6 weeks for the registration to be fully realized (all tr√°mites, etc.) outside Vzla. Generally, there’s a period in which relaciones exteriores allows registrations, well in advance of an election. But this time, the elections are being called within too short of a time frame.

        Did your son try to register to vote, outside Vzla, Gordo?

  21. syd Says:

    Thanks for the clear summary, Miguel. I missed Maduro’s rueda de prensa/frontal atack to Capriles. Do you have the link?

    • LD Says:

      Here the “superb” answer from Nicolas:

      • syd Says:

        Qué tergiversador y enfermo por el poder económico es este Nicolás Maduro, con el respaldo de los hmos Castro. Está desesperado quien nació en Curazao o en Aruba. Le picó duro lo de Capriles.

        Y qu√© chistoso es quien llama por la paz, paz, paz, mientras que usa palabras de odio, sobre el llamado anterior y se√Īal de guerra de Diosdado Cabello.

        Qu√© risorio tambi√©n es el amedrentamiento de Maduro, usando la familia de Ch√°vez para demandar a Capriles, como si el mismo ofendi√≥ en alg√ļn instante la memoria y la familia de Hugo Ch√°vez. Esa demanda la quiero ver yo materializada, para ver su falta de base jur√≠dica y real. Lamentablemente, un pueblo enredado que no escuch√≥ a Capriles, no tendr√° una buena base para reflexionar y llegar de alg√ļn modo a la l√≥gica y a la verdad.

        Pas√© unos 22 minutos de tortura escuchando a este bigote est√ļpido y sin apellidos. No pude m√°s. Pero mucho agradezco tus esfuerzos, LD. Gracias.

        • megaescualidus Says:

          He may put Hugo’s picture in the background, but he’s so not Hugo. He may have said he’s Hugo’s son, but he’s still very far from being Hugo. He’s as cynical (or more, perhaps) than Hugo himself but he’s like a bad copy of Hugo. He had to balls to promise to go to the barrios and combat and get crime under control. Well, guess under whom crime got totally out of hand? Under his adoptive dad: Hugo himself and the 13 years he was in power. Maduro totally lacks Hugo’s natural histrionic skills. The shorter the campaign and the less he appears in front of a camera the better it will be for him. We just went from some type of clown to a worse one. The nightmare continues…

          BTW: did I hear correctly when someone said Hugo left his daughters ~ $2B (dos millardos de $)?

      • Humberto Says:

        How unbelievably lame. Down to the portrait of Chavez in the background. This guy has nothing. Absolutely nothing!

      • Carolina Says:

        Alguien por ahi dijo que era como Chavez pero con costuras.

      • syd Says:

        y otro pregunta:
        Que habremos hecho para tener a Borat de presidente encargado.

      • Tomate Says:

        pura paja! Como que salio raspa’o en el cursito de actuacion que le dieron en cuba

      • Roy Says:

        I just couldn’t watch it. It was boring, lame and, more importantly, contrived.

        El pueblo is not going to vote for six years of THAT!

      • LD Says:

        And yesterday in the campaign speech at CNE he was trying to imitate HCh, but failed with his singing and had also a couple of times to ask the people to pay atention… I hope people don’t vote for him just because he is ” the son of Ch√°vez” (el tapado).

  22. This was a very strong verbalisation of the thoughts climbing up the minds of millions of venezuelans. He needs to continue in this direction, never fold, never show weakness, and we might get a tight election. Even thought I strongly believe a Maduro win will be worse for Chavismo than a Capriles win.

  23. Carpenter Says:

    update on the SNL skit…written by a half-venezuelan on the staff who was always getting rebuffed for his Chavez stuff. The show was one of their best and the star-studded presence indicates Justin Timberlake is getting massively relaunched. If the regime decides to go after this, it will make matters worse.

  24. Ronaldo Says:

    AS for the economy, Capriles only has to say that the $billions going to foreign countries will now stay in Venezuela to help everyone. Chavistas would be heretics to their revolution to stop the outflow of money and go against Chavez’ gift giving.

    Of course, this is not enough to fix the economy but it is a policy that must be followed to get the country back on track.

    • deananash Says:

      Oh YES, by all means add it. In fact, take the oil revenue and divide it by every POOR Venezuelan. (Sorry, the rich lose their share. That’s the price that they must pay to get back their country and liberties.)

      So, billions of dollars divided by 10,000,000 poor equals “X” per person, per year. “It’s your money, you don’t need the government to spend it for you…and this eliminates los ratones.”

  25. Ronaldo Says:

    The election will be in 32 days. A lot can change during that time. The hysteria over Chavez may fade. All Capriles has to do is strike a note with the voters that life can be better in Venezuela.

    Maduro still has to prove himself which will be hard since his speeches are pure hatred and full of continued support of the “Revolution” which is essentially undefined. Maduro has shown no accountability for the problems of Venezuela even though he has been VP for some time. Cubans are controlling Maduro and probably writing his speeches.

    Parading a dead body around to get votes will get old. All the foreign dictators that attended the funeral cared nothing for the Venezuelan Pueblo or the citizens of their own countries. They attended only to keep the Chavez cash flow going their way.

    I predict a Capriles win in spite of all the disadvantages Chavistas will place in his way.

    • chiguire Says:

      Ronaldo, con todo respeto e aunque estoy ojalando lo mismo, estas fumando monte si piensas que hay un chancito que ganara Capriles. Los Cubanos encargados no lo dejaran pasar.

    • deananash Says:

      He can’t win, but he can make them steal it by winning the majority. Go ahead, call me an optimist. Miguel is right, co-opt the Chavistas’ referendum. “YES to Chavez, NO to his cronies”. “We’ve seen the light, the problem wasn’t Chavez, it was the people around him – the same people who want absolute control now. They were thieves and only Chavez held them back. Without Chavez, they will plunder Venezuela, causing massive inflation, poverty, etc…”

      Set up the Chavistas for failure. Actually, they’ve set themselves up, just remind people so that when it happens, they’ll recognize it for what it is.

  26. liz Says:

    We missed you Miguel.
    I’m one of those who think that Maduro was reading a teleprompter. Especially at the beginning. You could see his eyes moving back and forth. And some times he became a little bit confused… as if the words were retyped.

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