Archive for April 7th, 2013

As Maduro Curses Opposition Voters, Capriles Has Huge March In Caracas

April 7, 2013

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It is hard to write about what is going on down in Venezuela. Today was the last day for the publication of polls, and I have yet to see a single reputable poll where Capriles is even close. Strange, when Capriles faced Chavez in October, he would beat any Chavista handily, but now Chavez anointing Maduro gives him the lead. Must be that sympathy factor, but I feel it less and less.

On the other hand, I think that it must be really difficult to predict what will happen with abstention. Even the opposition has doubts about whether its hard core voters will show up on April 14th. My bet is that the opposition is more militant. The hardcore Chavista voters will go and vote, the hardcore opposition voters will also go, the question is what about the rest? Chavez is simply not involved this time around: Will PSUV manage to execute its magic this time around with the Sai Bab follower? Somehow I doubt it, but at the same time, I also doubt abstention will be sufficient to have Capriles win.

Not one of the pollsters predicted abstention below 20% last October. That made a huge difference. Now, I hear the opposite, that most pollsters are seeing less than 20% abstention. What is going on here? When Capriles was running against Chavez, abstention was measured at 25-27% in most reputable polls. Now Chavez, the ultimate vote getter, is not involved and people say they will go more than ever?

What gives?

I just don’t believe it. That gives me some hope, but at the same time articles like the one in El Nacional today (page S1) telling us how PDVSA is organizing the get out the vote drive, make it difficult to be optimistic.

Hard to believe that PDVSA can’t get oil out of the ground, but can coordinate that every public worker will vote and vote for Maduro…But, of course they could care less about oil production, ballot stuffing is much more important.

I do hope there is a blackout on the 14th. to screw up their plan.

The problem is that they have many plans, like the discovery that the passwords for the BIOS of the machines were in the hands of two PSUV members. Irrelevant, but the Government played it well, as a way of discouraging opposition voters.

Spain’s El Pais says that today’s march was the biggest since 1999. I would love this to be true, however, I wonder what march they are referring to in 1999. That year, opposition marches were actually small, if not tiny. A headline saying since April 2002, would have been more accurate or significant.

Capriles did well today. His speech was believable, humorous, he was very confrontational, which seems to do well with the more radical opposition he avoided last year. I don’t think he will get the Chavista vote, but I don’t think that is the idea, as long as they stay home, he has a chance. The march had to be huge, I have never seen people march “vertically” like in this picture:

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And I think lots of Chavistas will abstain. Maduro is a lightweight. Much less impressive than I ever thought. He has been trying the spiritual stuff, he even tried to curse us via the Macarapana curse, but I am not sure that plays well in the dense barrios of Venezuela’s largest cities, which is where the 2007 referendum was won.

But in the end, the curse may be on Maduro if he wins. He has to become radical on the economy to change things, but at the same time he has to watch his back over those who want to replace him within Chavez’ PSUV party. Not an easy path to take. Damn if you do it, damn if you don’t. Capriles’ job will be just as difficult, the difference being that he will start from scratch and review all policies from scratch, something Maduro is very unlikely to do.

The economic task is difficult, but not impossible, nor improbable. Cut or reduce Cuba off. Cut or reduce PetroCaribe off. Triple gas prices to go from free to free. Create a single exchange rate with bells and whistles and you might cut the black rate in half. Lower yields on debt and buyback stuff and reissue debt at cheaper rates. Reduce subsidies to non-functioning Government enterprises. Create checks and balances. Put corruption in check. Have everything go to international reserves by eliminating parallel funds. Don’t buy any weapons…

So easy to dream, so hard to envision it…

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