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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50 Responses to “As Maduro Curses Opposition Voters, Capriles Has Huge March In Caracas”

  1. Mick Says:

    Since the government’s budget comes from oil sales which are in dollars, the shortages and inflation are caused by converting $ to Bs, and the gold probably no longer belongs to the people, why not just switch to a $ based economy. No more inflation, no more shortages, no more printing money the government does not have.

  2. m_astera Says:

    In one of the largest grocery stores on Margarita today, the Central Madeirense on Ave Bolivar, five days before the election: No coffee, no rice, no corn flour for arepas, no cooking oil, the bread shelves almost empty, the meat department only has pigs feet for sale. Seriously.

    This is very poor psychology for a government hoping to win an election, and something I couldn’t see happening with Chavez in charge. Shows me that the dregs trying to run the country aren’t even competent at subverting the laws and constitution and looting the treasury to win an election.

    But likely they have all been assured that the voting machines will deliver the needed results, so no worries.

    I wonder where those hundreds of tons of gold brought back in 2011 are now, and if they are still in Venezuela, who they are pledged to as security?

  3. jose Says:

    Even if the opposition wins 99% of the popular votes, PSUV party in charge of the CNE with the army will declare Maduro the winner. This Venecuba “democracy” is a joke.

  4. moctavio Says:

    Public transportation IS heavily subsidized. The subway costs Bs. 2 (Less than 33 cents at the official rate of exchange, less than 10 cents at the black rate) , buses get credits at rates well below inflation and get special fleet prices. A bus ticket from Petare to downtown is Bs. 4. Suppose the bus has 60 seats, with two passengers, it would pay the cost of my tripling the price of gas. Thta is how ridiculous it is.

    I still think giving everyone US$ 500 a year and raising prices to the world price is the most efficient solution, people will save gas. Subsidies also generate corruption.

    • concerned Says:

      A rapid gas increase before salary increases and improvements in the qualities of life would paralyze the country with the first transportation protest and blockade. In a country sitting on top of one of the largest heavy oil reserves in the world, a fuel subsidy for internal consumption is not a bad thing, and why shouldn’t the public benefit with some relief? Especially after years of claiming that these reserves were now for all Venezuelans. There is arguably no reason to balance with world prices, or at least before the average standard of living could support it.

      The problem is that the prices are not representative of the balance of production and production costs. Venezuela’s bread and butter
      comes from the sale of crude oil, and not refined products. If PDVSA could just match refined products with internal demand they would be much improved from the current state. Eliminate the need to import fuels and become self sufficient.

      The fuel subsidy is just pennies on the dollar for the amount of loss through corruption and freebies to other countries for political gain. There is much more low hanging fruit to pick before tackling such a volatal subject as removing fuel subsidies. It would be political suicide to address too quickly or in too large a price differential.

    • concerned Says:

      A $500 cash payment may be a good idea, but how would you manage it? Does someone without a car who depends on a bus receive $500? Does someone who uses their car as a taxi for their total family income receive $500? Does someone who drives their personal car 100 miles round trip per day to work receive $500? Are they paid in a lump sum, buy one I Phone 5 with the cash and then go without the rest of the year?

      I would think that this is one area to shy away from for at least the first year. Cut the cuban ties, try to recover all of the money ramirez and company have stashed around the world, and then see where you are then. It will take at least the next 10 years to climb out of this hole that has been dug, but it can be done.

      • moctavio Says:

        Yes, give everyone with a cedula $500 a year, give them a credit card load it every three months and tell people save it that is to compensate gas increases. Increase the price of gas to international prices. People will save gas, so they can keep more of their money. Everybody wins and the Government spends the same amount it was “losing” via the subsidy.

  5. Bruni Says:

    Gasoline prices must go up. To me the solution is a heavy subsidy of public transportation as well as food transportation that would be more than possible when the current gas subsidy is eliminated.

    The government cannot just do one before the other. It has to be carefully prepared and synchronized.

  6. moctavio Says:

    Another option for gasoline, is to give people cash directly for it and increase the price to the export FOB price. Consumption would go down dramatically, even if people have the money in their pockets to pay for the gasoline.

    • Dr. Faustus Says:

      I agree. They have to do something sensible, and quick. I like ‘Deananash’s’ idea the best.

    • concerned Says:

      Gas subsidy in a petrostate is OK for political reasons as long as the consumption is below the production capacity. The moment that your production capacity is below the consumption and you start importing gasoline/gasoil at market prices and then give it away for political reasons you lose ground. One of the reasons for this is the current refining capacity and PDVSA’s failure to maintain production capacity. This problem is not a quick fix, and will take a few years to restore.
      Cash directly would create other oportunities for corruption. Personal use, public transport, do you even have a car kind of questions?
      Increase gas prices as needed to counter imports until production can be restored and then increased to export levels, with profits then returned into PDVSA refining for maintenance and investment.
      Increasing the gas prices gradually would help get some of the unsafe gas hogs off of the road, but that too will take some time as that is the only source of income for many as any thing that will crank is used as a taxi. Once more job opportunities are available, this demand for taxi for income will also reduce and hopefully lessen the traffic congestion.
      None of this would or should happen quickly, and should not be a kneejerk reaction to make up for 13 years of frozen prices. There are too many other quick corruption recovery opportunities to address first.

    • Gordo Says:

      There has to be an emphasis on public transportation. I can’t stand the commute traffic! Too many cars on the road!

  7. moctavio Says:

    Not at all, a single rate, floating would go to 13 Bolivars or so in my opinion, big jump in inflation followed by lower inflation.

  8. Bruni Says:

    Miguel, you seem to imply that even if Capriles wins, there should be exchange control.

    Why? Why is that needed? I think exchange controls only bring corruption.

  9. Ira Says:

    Hey–no one’s mentioned his offer of VZ citizenship to the Cuban medical professionals. A BRILLIANT political move, and a real kick in the head to Fidel, who wants them back if push comes to shove.

    I also LOVED his passion and hatred to all Cuban military and security personnel in the country, basically telling them to get the hell out.

    • Ira Says:

      BTW:

      I never say Raul–it’s still all Fidel.

      And if Capriles wins, can he strip Raul of his Order of the Liberator award?

  10. Mick Says:

    I’d be willing to bet you guys could come up with a dozen ways Caprilles could reduce waste and corruption that would generate billions. I’m also sure if you were in Miraflores you could find double that. Enough to keep the poor happy with their handouts and finance some projects that actually get off the ground and create jobs. Then show foreign investors they can do business with Venezuela without fear of being mugged by the government and see just how much oil money will flow. In the end, the powers that be will be more interested in getting a piece of the pie than in crucifying Caprilles.

    • deananash Says:

      This is the right idea. Lay out a plan for moving forward that doesn’t touch the poor people’s bribe money. The gas coupons that I mentioned above would be a great start. Coupons for basic foodstuffs would also work. Just take all of the oil that you’re giving away and sell it. That should finance the food coupons. And like the gas coupons,, many would sell them and become capitalists without even realizing it.

  11. concerned Says:

    Capriles packed the streets again tonight in Anzoategui. The tide is turning with more and more support from chavistas who are choosing Capriles and a future over maduro and certain prolonged failure. Lots of banners with chavistas con Capriles or similar slogans.

    • Ira Says:

      Huh?

      Chavistas Con Capriles posters?

      ????????

    • jc Says:

      You’re in the bubble my friend, I was too, in Oct. Please heed this, as you are in for a big disappointment. The chavistas have a massive GOTV effort. If you don’t vote and are on a chavista roll, they will get you and you will go vote. It’s that simple.

  12. Herb Says:

    It’s gonna be harder to buy big-ticket weapons systems without HCF. The shenanigans with Navantia warships should be thing of the past. They got burned on the Russian Sukhoi combat jets. China and Russia will continue to sell small arms, light weapons and even tanks but the big weapons systems should be thing of the past.

  13. megaescualidus Says:

    Very uncertain times to come, anyway I see it. Should Capriles win now (and I really think it is nearly impossible) and he’ll inherit a country with a lot of very tough problems, some of which may end up exploding on him. Should his time come later, say in 6 years, or less, and he’ll face the same, or worse situation. In a way, sadly, Caprlies is almost a sacrificial guy, where he’s posed to face some very tough times no matter what. My heart really goes out to him. Not many people have the cojones he has. Lots of people will complain and do nothing. Capriles is simply a cuatriboleao.

    From San Francisco, California, I’m ready to go out and vote (yet again) next Sunday (and orgulloso to do so, again, and again…)

    BTW: in my heart, Venezuela’s flag will ALWAYS have 7 stars!

    • Gordo Says:

      If there are pragmatists among the Chavistas, they might form a natural alliance with Capriles. Right now, especially, with more devaluations ahead, investors with foreign currency will have lots of bargains in Venezuela. Real Estate prices in Venezuela are a fraction of what they are in Columbia, especially farmland. If all the capital “flight” out of Venezuela returns all at once, production and jobs will lift the economy right away! It won’t alleviate the pain right away, but it pull things clearly in the right direction. That will inspire optimism and expectations for the future from bearish to bullish!

  14. extorres Says:

    Is it me or is maduro taking on, more and more, the Zelaya look?

  15. concerned Says:

    The growing unified support for Capriles is incredible. The voluntary support is huge beyond previous years, and is gaining momentum. The Globovision coverage is all or nothing, and the written press on the street is giving unusual supporting coverage as well.

    It doesn’t help maduro’s cause that he is a bumbling fool, which shouldn’t be a surprise as historically chavez has never surrounded himself with anyone with a brain of his own or wasn’t cuban. Maduro’s channeling with chavez, not knowing the names of not one but three states, and even whether maduro is Colombian or Venezuelan is not helping his case that he is indeed viable or competent for the job. I guess is you overlook the fact that he is not an elected official and is holding the temporary position of Venezuelan president illegally, a small oversight of whether he is actually a Venezuelan by birth may not be a huge emission on his resume’.

    Chavistas are jumping the sinking ship right and left. There is still the paid, forced, threatened, and outright kidnapping of government employees to attend and support maduro. But with no salary increases, inflation, and devaluations and only lies promising opportunities and an improved future with maduro, those threats no longer carry any weight. Abstention or outright vote reversal will be huge. The imposed idea that the fingerprint scanners will identify you and your vote choice, or even the intentional leak that psuv members have the codes and control the destiny of the voting machines or in some way can track your vote to be used against you later will deter very few. After all, how much worse could it get? It only supports the fact that they have, and will again “try” to manipulate the results. It doesn’t mean that they will get away with it this time.

    Capriles promise to unify Venezuela for all, and not focus on whether you are chavista or opposition is the clear path for the future and only way out of the current economic black hole. It will take everyone and all resources to rebuild the damage and move forward.

    • firepigette Says:

      Concerned,

      I remember when Chavez first won elections.He seemed to unify the country very much.So many people were then no longer divided in Copeyanos vs Adecos but now the majority were just Chavistas and the rest were laying low.

      The problem with unification is in how we interpret it.A dictator unifies the country quite well, under some definitions.In voting we need unification to win, but later we need plurality with respect.

      We can unify either by all being the same, or we can unify in a respect for differences which is what a democracy should be about in my opinion.

      • concerned Says:

        For a revolution, you need an enemy to revolt with. The U.S. was an easy target early, but over the years chavez biggest threat (in his mind) became the opposition. With that came the “con chavez hay todo, y sin chavez hay nada” mentality. Us or them. Castro paranoia in overdrive.

        Capriles is trying to unify Venezuela again. It will take all 30 million to climb out of this hole and progress. I am optomistic.

        • LT Says:

          If you think about it, concerned and firepigette are expressing two sides of the same coin: the need to dismantle 21rst century, computer-based apartheid.

          La lista. The Maisanta database. The chavista implementation allowing the coordination of discriminatory actions against millions of people simultaneously and forever. Kafka couldn’t imagine it worse, a system that allows the bureaucrats at the Kastle to classify anyone as an “apatrida,” a stateless person, with whatever “rights” under sufferance only, “for now.” Anyone up to 45% of the population simultaneously.

          Nobody, not even Capriles, wants to mention the little word in public, apartheid/segregation, but that is exactly the word. How to guarantee it will not continue or repeat in the future if nobody wants to call it by its true name? At least if the word apartheid if taken out the closet, there is a chance that chavistas will realize that there’s no reason why the 45% in Maisanta couldn’t grow to become 100%. That the mass abuse could engulf them too.

  16. carlos Says:

    Gas price today is 10 cents of bolivares per liter, ie. 1 and a half cent of the dollar at official rate or only HALF A CENT at black market exchange rate. FREE GAS!! !
    Now, raise the price triple to 30 cents of bolivares, and price will go to 3 cents of the dollar… Still free gas!

    • island canuck Says:

      Or US$0.017 per US gallon.

      It costs around 13¢ to fill my car with 30 liters (7.9 US gallons) of gas.

      That’s free in anyone’s book.

  17. euroandres Says:

    I must say that I don t agree with your vision of an economic plan for Venezuela, this would be my proposal instead:
    1) Cadivi stays for food and medicine, however to national producers of these goods the government will pay for each unit produced a subsidy equal to the difference between the national controlled price and the import price, in order to promote national production, as national offer pumps up, inflationary pressure on basic goods will recede and controls could be released.
    2) Gasoline cannot be increased right away, I would make a plan of increase in three phases with the first one next year and so on, however meanwhile the government would offer as an alternative installing for free natural gas system on vehicles, while developing a Natural gas pumping network, in order to offer a cheaper gas option to Venezuelans, the idea is to increase gas prices to a level coherent with market conditions.
    3) BCV independence must be re established, and setting their goal to inflation control, it is imperative to put inflation below 10% since this will release some of the pressure on hard currency, fiscal budget must be balanced, useless subsides to other countries must stop.
    4) Besides the controlled product, currency must be released as soon as possible for other goods, it will be a huge shock for middle-high class but it is necessary.
    5) Promote an environment to decrease risk factor in investments, as this one decreases, the discount rate for international investment decreases, increasing the number of feasible projects in Venezuela.

    • moctavio Says:

      Well, Capriles would need money, these subsidies are absurd at current levels and have to be removed at least partially. Your number 3) can no be implemented immediately as he would have no control of the Assembly. I dont see why gasoline can not be increased right away. 4) is in my proposal. 5) is something that will happen only if you act with economic sense.

      • euro_andres Says:

        It cannot be done inmmediately because it would cause lower educated people to detach Capriles head from his body. You need to start pitching the idead in to people minds, Gasolina is a very delicate element in Venezuelan society, additionally inflation is high enough, releasing controls inmediately would create an unbereabable pressure for lower class people. It has do be done gradually, economic distortions in Venezuela are too big for a sudden release of the economy

        • moctavio Says:

          But the impact is minimal on the economy because it is so cheap. Caldera change the price of gasoline and nothing happened, you just have to do it right.

          • deananash Says:

            Give EVERY Venezuelan coupons for FREE gas. And allow everyone to sell them a la the free market. AND raise the price to market levels. It’s a clever way to distribute the oil wealth to the people. NOT the best way, but a clever way. (Poor people – those without cars – will gladly sell their coupons for CASH.) This is how you drive a wedge between your opponents.


  18. I didn’t get the “Triple gas prices to go from free to free.”


    • At Bs. 90 per liter, it costs less than a dollar at the officil rate to fill your tank. At triple that, it would cost less than 3 dollars to do the same (less than one at the black rate). Thus, it would go from being free to being free.

  19. captainccs Says:

    Funny thing about racist Chavez, his follower will be a Jew, either Capriles or handpicked Maduro, both descendants from Sephardic Jews from Curaçao. I wonder how closely Maduro is related to his namesake banker: http://mcb-bank.com/

    • firepigette Says:

      Captainccs,

      My husband’s family were owners of this bank, so I can tell you….that there is very little relation between Nicolas Maduro and the Jews of Curacao.The thing about the Sephardi in Venezuela is that all of them are related, but very distantly.Many left Curacao years ago and intermarried with non Jews as well.Some Curiels are now in Venezuela and practicing Catholics.The link to Judaism should really not be an issue.

  20. BB Cuiba Says:

    Check this out if you have any doubt!!!

    http://t.co/bcAB21euFZ

    • colon Says:

      Boy looks like a lot of people! Makes me a bit less pessimistic….

      Wonder what the data will look if the gurus do a rapid area/people count and extrapolate to the past elections?

  21. moctavio Says:

    Who are they? Where were they in October, or the previous years. I dont like flight by night operations in polling. I dont like telephone polls either.

  22. PM Says:

    So no hope datamatica might be right? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t remember Capriles saying in October he was ahead in opinion polls. This time they say they are. And a friend of mine said the election is nearly tied, which he didn’t say in october.. Datamatica are either going to be heroes of the laughing stock of Chavistas like C21

  23. Ronaldo Says:

    “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.”

    Maduro must continue Chavez policies or he will not survive. Oil to Cuba, Russian arms purchases, the lop-sided deal with China, supporting drug dealers, etc. The Cubans, Russians, Chinese, and drug cartels will seek revenge if agreements are broken. Even Chavez’ family expects to be treated as royalty if Maduro wins. Maduro is locked into the current system and he is not strong enough to go by himself.

    Capriles can start from scratch.

  24. NET Says:

    Excellent comments!


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