A View Of The New Venezuelan Primary Field: From Six To Two, If Not Just One

January 28, 2012

I apologize for being absent since Monday, but things got complicated after the debate on Monday, stopping me from blogging until now. Not that I did not want to. After Leopoldo Lopez’ withdrawal and endorsement of Henrique Capriles, I actually had to, but perhaps it was better this way, as I was able to be surprised by the diverse reactions to the political maneuver, many of which were surprisingly negative.

I found Lopez’ decision to be a good political move, typical of a primary process. Lopez had clearly not gained much in the polls since joining the race, in fact some polls suggest he had lost ground and politically it was risky for him personally to perform badly, obtaining even less than ten percent of the vote. There is no question that Lopez’ legal case remains an anvil hanging from his neck. Too many people that I talked to believed it too risky for him to run and win, only to be banned from taking office. I have always disagreed with this, believing that a victory by Lopez in the Presidential race guaranteed that he would take office. Nevertheless, this fairly widespread belief, combined with Lopez’ poor campaigning in the initial stages of the race, simply did not allow him to gain ground.

Lopez could have simply stayed out, rather than join Capriles. This is something that some Lopez supporters find infuriating, they somehow find it insulting that Lopez can think that their votes can simply be endorsed to Capriles on Lopez’ say so. Of course they can’t, but that is what primaries are all about. Lopez wanted to make a statement and stay visible, but Lopez also needed a lifeline for his Voluntad Popular party, which requires funding for its candidates in the regional race and for its nationwide network. Lopez’ withdrawal would make it hard to have a continuos flow of funding that would surely go to the other candidates in the race. The move guarantees this funding.

And while it is clear after listening to so many people gripe about the endorsement that not all of Lopez’ votes will go to Capriles, it is also clear in my mind that a good fraction of them will, which added to the apparent strong support for Capriles, should push him over the very magic, and desirable, fifty percent number and seal the fate of the election.

And in that, the move is politically masterful. Two, new generation, persecuted politicians, have put the nail in the coffin of the Cuarta Republica, represented by the traditional political parties and politicians that back Un Nuevo Tiempo’s candidate Pablo Perez. Not that these parties will go away, but a loss by Perez in February, will do away with some of the encroached traditional politicians used to manipulating everything in smoke filled rooms.

In that sense, the move is not only brilliant, but if it works, it will be historical and will become when the sixth or a potential sixth, killed the fourth.

And clearly, if Leopoldo was going to support someone, it had to be Capriles, he could not back any of the others, including Maria Corina Machado, who so far has shown less progress in gaining support than Lopez, even if we don’t have any numbers after her “To Expropriate is to rob” statement. And even if she did, she still does not have a national structure to get out the vote on primary day.

Which is in a sense, Lopez’ biggest contribution to the Capriles campaign: combining both structures to insure that Pablo Perez does not win simply because Un Nuevo Tiempo and Accion Democratica managed to use their political machinery to get out of the vote. And Lopez’ Voluntad Popular has even a far wider presence (in geographical extension, not in size) than Capriles’ around the country, which in my opinion reinforces Primero Justicia’s well and contains the possibility of a Pablo Perez surprise.

Hopefully, the resentment over the move will be forgotten by the time February 12th. comes around and the other parties remain united in the Presidential race.

As to the possibility that Maria Corina Machado will mount a surprising and last minute surge, I just don’t buy it. That is simply wishful think by people who live in Caracas and who in their hearts have always viewed MCM with sympathy, but felt that she had no chance until she started confronting Chavez. I did  not see any evidence that this has changed, even if some tried to change my mind on the subject.

To me, primaries have done their job at this stage. Clearly, given the negative reactions to the news of Lopez’ endorsement of Capriles, people still have to experience a few primaries to understand why the dynamics help promote and decant the candidates, while giving them additional exposure. With Lopez’ withdrawal the field narrows and in my opinion, it just went from six to two, if not just one.

53 Responses to “A View Of The New Venezuelan Primary Field: From Six To Two, If Not Just One”

  1. Michel Says:

    I got very much the same response as you mention but, since I study at the Pol. Sci. school at the UCV, I usually get to ask “why” and, judging by the answers, things seem to have gone more complicated than before. Some of the LL’s supporters are going to vote for HCR, but unwillingly, the majority, however, are divided in 2 groups, one says they’re goinf to vote for MCM, since they think she’s the next best thing closer to LL’s ideas, the other groups is thinking about not voting in the primaries at all. They all, however, don’t want to support PP because, at least at the school, the PP’s supporters, at least those from UNT, behave towards PP the same way chavistas behave towards Chávez.

    Those of AD and COPEI, however, are different. The members of AD are going to vote for PP unwillingly, those that support AD, however, don’t even want to vote at all if they have to vote for PP. The COPEI front is quite different because, even though it supports PP officially, both members and supporters (at least those I know at the Pol. Sci. school and the Law school) are going to vote for, and are even campaigning for, MCM. I think it’s because most of them support the change of the country’s economic system from the bankrupt current Welfare State to that of the Social Market Economy, following the examples of Germany and Japan. They seem to think that if MCM is in power, that change can be made.

    There is a growing group of nationalists that keeps on growing, and many Liberals (in the real sense, not the US sense) keep on joining their group. It has come to a point were the influence is evident, because the nationalists, at first, didn’t even though of voting in the primaries, latelly, however, they’re going to vote for MCM. The feeling is that the country needs a non-left-wing party and, even thought MCM is not a right-wing, at least it’s not as left-wing as the others are perceived.

    This is because UNT is perceived as “neo-AD”, even getting the name of “un Nuevo Adeco”, whereas PJ is perceived as “neo-COPEI”, being “Copeyanismo Laico”. It’s actually realli interesting to see how people change positions and ideas as the primaries race progresses.

    • captainccs Says:

      Venezuela certainly could use a right of center government but I doubt that MCM can win the primaries. Putting an end to the 4th is also a good thing.

      What does Capriles actually stand for?

    • Kepler Says:

      Michel,

      I suppose you are aware UCV political sciences is a different world from the rest Caracas and Caracas from the rest of Venezuela.

      As for Un Nuevo Tiempo: it is not that it looks like a new AD. It IS a new AD. If you read the Historia Fundamental de Venezuela by “historian” José Luis Salcedo, in any of the old editions, you will read he talks about Un Nuevo Tiempo as the supposed “political movement” of what he considered the new era, with CAP etc. He wrote that before Chávez came to power.
      I am puzzled that people much older than me who were actually politically involved back then and who were working to establish a “new party” of which some of its members were old adecos could be so silly as to use a synonym for “AD” to create this new party.

      Miguel,

      Chavez won’t lose unless

      1) Capriles develops his rhetoric skills and
      can hold speeches that show a clear picture of what he wants for the country

      2) the political leaders who are Caraquenos and Maracuchos and Valencianos spend a lot of time in the secondary cities listening, listening to people. By secondary cities I mean Punto Fijo, Calabozo, El Tigre, Acarigua, El Tocuyo, Maturín, Boconó, etc.

      3) the message is really clear and makes people

      a) see a developed Venezuela and not for yet another promise of better management
      b) realise Chávez is giving them the crumbles only.

      If you don’t aim for the stars but for the moon, you will just hit the lanterns
      It won’t be easy.
      Of course, if Chávez dies before October, things change, but I very much doubt that will be the case. This gringo conservative Noriega has been a joke when it comes to foreseeing things in the Middle East or Latin America.Perhaps if he hadn’t say it I would pay more attention.

      • Dr. Faustus Says:

        Might I add point 4 to the thought, “Chavez won’t lose unless….”

        4) That the opposition parties in Venezuela begin to recognize that the October elections will be, first and foremost, an entirely undemocratic and rigged event.

        First, a real democracy would never allow the ruling party to have access to the government treasury in order to run a campaign. That’s absurd. How many tens of millions of dollars/bolivars will be stolen from the state treasury to support the PSUV in October? That’s considered…..fair? Where? In which country?

        Second, when will the opposition parties take a hard look at the actual ‘mechanics’ of the electoral process? How many real voters are in each district, and how many actually voted. If you ignore this, you’ve already lost the elections. If indeed there are 5 million + phantom voters floating around the electoral data basis, you may as well give-up before you start. If you add to that the countless Cuban agents/thugs, whose own government has even ‘more’ to lose were the Venezuelan elections to go awry, who are working undercover within the electoral system to promote Chavez, then your odds of winning are even more daunting than before. You can watch the polls going up or down on any given day. The polls are for amateurs. It’s the ‘mechanics’ of the election which. in the end, really matter. Ignore this at your own peril….

        • Kepler Says:

          I agree.
          I just got feedback from people in a major city. They tell me the CNE keeps only one tiny centre to register there and there are huge lines and they close at 5pm sharp while lots of people can’t register. At the same time there are several times the amount of registration booths in Yaracuy and other places where the majority is still Chavista.
          And yes: add all the things you said and…

        • moctavio Says:

          Faustus: There are people looking at that. I have a friend who quit his job to devote all of his time to the problem, he is a very succesfull software entrepreneur and he is applying his skills full time to working on that since October.

          • Kepler Says:

            Well, Miguel: I agree on that. When Chavistas say “no volverán” I say: de qué carajos hablas? No se han ido nunca, los chavistas son lo peor de la Cuarta. Capriles and López are a new generation. I just hope personalities take a more secondary role within their teams.

        • GeronL Says:

          Just remember, we live in a nation where Barack Obama was allowed a trillion slush fund called ‘stimulus’ and he expects to get a billion of that back as donations. Is that much different?

      • Michel Says:

        How is the Pol. Sci. school at the UCV different from the rest of the country? We don’t live in a bubble, and there are you can find students from the whole economic and political spectrum. It’s a reflection of the politics on the country, but on a smaller state, which is what makes it more complex, actually.

        I’m a Liberal (in the real sense), so I don’t have a candidate, however, from a completelly academic perspective, I would like for MCM to win because of 3 reasons:

        1.- So far, she seems to be the “second choice” of most (the “second choice” was somewhat divided between her and LL, but since he left the race, she’s it). When the electorate is too divided, the best option is exactly that, the “second best”. However, since we don’t have preferential vote in this country, and the primaries are not using it either, the “second best” position is useless.

        2.- I’d like to see Chávez’s reaction if she wins and calls him up on that debate he spoke about at the “State of the Union”. Something like “Ya tengo el ranking, Presidente… Ponga la fecha” would be epic. And, of course, as we all know, he will never go to that debate, which places him bad among the non-hard-core chavistas, which is the public HCR is trying to lure. She can go on a have “debates” with the public, something we know Chávez will never do.

        3.- I’d like to see how Chávez’s manages a campaign agains a woman. As we know, since he has nothing to promise he hasn’t promised in past elections, all he has left is personal attacks (actually, that was almost all he did on the other elections), this time, however, she being a woman might have a different effect. Would it affect his relations with other countries the same way it affects Iran’s? If he says something bad against MCM, what would be the reaction of, say, the opposition in Argentina if CFK doesn’t say anything about it? I know feminism is just a “tincture” in politics, but it’s an interesting one.

  2. CharlesC Says:

    Thanks for another well-written article. (You have really produced some great articles)
    Devil, you have a beautiful mind!
    I do believe Machado is plowing on and gaining though. As to Perez, he looks very unhappy these days.
    Caprilles, people are beginning to realize that he’s a machine that does not stop.
    On a different note-Chavez is morphing and changing masks rapidly…

  3. Alexander Says:

    The mosto i lime is the mention of 4th Republic, it looks that you believed that “pendejada” creares by Chavez to declive and mislead some naive people in the middle class, a lot of them voted for Chavez in 1998. I remember for example in the Country Club, one of the most exclusive “barrios” from Caracas, Chavez won that election, naively believing that Chavez would destroy old political parties, AD COPEI and so on. They were right, Chavez nearly destroyed them, however, Chavez “guadaña” cut many other heads in Venezuela belonging to old parties tradicional opposition from middle class upwards. Today all of them yearn the 4th Republic, Chavez finally brought his communist mantra, something which at that time I wrote and warned in articles and conferences that the bolivarian revolution was just a frase to to hide the communist agenda. jeje. No Octavio nobody takes seriously that empty words of 4th,5th, etc republics. It was a poison pill put into the chavist propaganda to capture untareis.

    • captainccs Says:

      The middle class does not matter! Simple arithmetic: Not enough money to buy important politicians nor enough votes to win elections.

      That was 4th R. But once they discover that, weapon in hand, they can steal the wealth of the upper class and the votes of the lower class, only the military matter.

      • moctavio Says:

        To me “La Cuarta” is a very well defined period for the simple reason that these guys blew it. By ignoring democracy and having cogollos decide everything, they lost touch and failed to do the good things they did in the first two decades after Perez Jimenez left, including failing to let young people rise. In fact, they did that in the “Coordinadora Democratica” and they resisted primaries up to the point that thet realized there would be no unified front without them> Lopez was one of the ones that stuck out for primaries and said he woud not participate if there were no primaries. As such, these two young guys will have killed the cuarta, if the unity candidate wins in October.

  4. loroferoz Says:

    Whether convenient for him (which is it) or not, whether he is opportune about it or not, whether he does it unintentionally (which I suppose he doesn’t, he knows the stakes) or not… He manages to send just the right message.

    Disgruntled Lopez supporters get to vote in the primaries for the candidate of their preference, only Lopez is now with Capriles. But when it’s over, supporters of losing candidates will simply have to stuff it and vote for the winner of the primaries. Or let Hugo Chavez win again.

    The primaries are about electing the person of your choice to represent the opposition in the presidential race. This presidential race, however is not about electing the particular person of your choice. It’s about getting Venezuela off the path to subsaharian style kleptocracy (or peronism), and back to the situation where it’s safe to choose and pick.

  5. Kepler Says:

    Well, I agree with Alexandre here.

    I say it over and over again: Venezuelans know about every fart their semi-God Bolívar-Imagined produced, but they have complete historical amnesia.

    Some of the worst characters from the so-called IV Republic are now in the V Republic.
    Rodríguez Chacín and Róger Cordero Lara were some of the military who committed war crimes in the eighties. Rodríguez was minister several times, he is a terrateniente (although now his thousands and thousands of hectares are on the name of his daughters) and Cordero is deputy for the PSUV.
    Soto and other idiots said the opposition deputies were the “perseguidores” and he and his pals the “perseguidos”. In reality perseguidores and perseguidos, both sides with criminal record, were on the PSUV side…
    Freddy Bernal was part of the worst of the police pre-Chávez. Most of the guys who shot civilians in 89 were military close to Chávez.

    Loroferoz,

    You should differentiate a little bit more when you talk about sub-Saharan kleptocracy. One thing is Ghana and even poor Mali and quite another Congo, Nigeria or Venezuela (OK, Venezuela is not in Africa, but it is closer to Congo than to Ghana).

  6. Joseph Says:

    Miguel Octavio: GREAT ANALYSIS!

    We need someone with a good read of the situation. I just hope that After Capriles wins by a landslide the Primarias, Pablo Perez and his machinery (is there one? pls talk more about this in your next article) pledges support of Zulian and UNT to Capriles’s campaign.

    An article above by Dr. Fausto touches a critical point, do not care about polls but rather focus on voting mechanics as a major/massive fraud is in the making. This is the main concern. What are the opposiition options if indeed there is fraud? Here are a few thoughts:

    1) Opposition (Capriles) needs to be 10% ahead in the polls the day before voting, and also in the after voting polls (which are used in any decent country to forecast electoral outcomes, are those allowed in Venny?

    2) If the Chavez-Capriles gap is less than 5% (likely case), how the opposition can measure the extent of fraud?

    3) If there is Fraud indeed, the opposition candidates should call its 5 mm voters to stay in the street under civil disobedience (i.e camp in front of Miraflores, stay indefenetely in front of the congress, take over each local government), I do not know what will this lead to (civil war, Chavez resigning?) But it is the only choice if indeed the whole voting is rigged at the CNE’s software managed counting system.

    Am I smoking something weird or do u agree with me?

  7. Carlos Says:

    We need a new CAP to oust Chavez from power and, unfortunately, I do not see any 40+ senior oppo leader able to became this new CAP.
    I agree with Miguel this contest (primarias) now became a one horse race, no doubt Capriles will fairly and confortably win. Now the question: why not to call the contest out and get a candidates deal? why not to focus only in the October race? why not to spare money for the gib contest against Chavez? I see Altamira streets filled with Maria Corina, Caroiles, Pablo, signs and pictures…what for?…what will be the pueblo reading for an oppo contest when only 2 millions voters will go to vote on feb 12? I am envisioning chavismo tv and media explaining to

    • moctavio Says:

      No, Carlos, that would not be good. Keep the excitement going, increase interest, keep gathering people, charming them enamoring them taking them away from Chavez and give someone a popular mandate, not the cogollos, the people. That is part of the process, the best part.

    • A. Barreda Says:

      Calling out the contest would be playing into chavismos’ hands. They have been saying the whoooole time that there won’t be primaries and that the opposition candidate would be hand picked by los cogollos.
      Besides, if the opposition get a huge number of voter on Feb 12th, it’s gonna be a huge bump that should help to rally the base.
      As for a CAP-like candidate, well… I guess we could use an eloquent, energetic candidate who can hold his own as public speaker. Nobody is perfect, and neither are our candidates – or Chavez for that matter. They have strenghts and weaknesses. In the end, it’s all about being able to hide the last while playing to the first.

  8. Syd Says:

    Thank you, Miguel. Great article. I agree with your position, plus Kepler’s and Dr. Faustus’ 4 points.

    The way I see it, the HCR+LL marriage was pragmatic. It was a lifesaver for LL, given that his political structure had not been well developed. Sure, it had a little spurt here and there by way of videoclips of diverse messages, where LL showcased himself, as a romantic, cartoon or action hero. Overall, LL’s party machinery lacked a consistent, unifying vision for the country. Its target marketing was scattered. And things did not improve through the *debates*.

    If LL can gain in humility through this two-man synergy, and can learn from it, he stands to become a much more seasoned politician on the national stage. And he needs seasoning. All this assumes that the HCR+LL marriage is strong enough to topple Chávez, through an election mechanism that is fair and transparent.

  9. A. Barreda Says:

    There are two things that amaze me.
    First, why did they choose Barbosa to give a press conference about Capoldo? Capriles’ team? He is the poster boy for cuarta republica back room dealings! It was the perfect framing for the whole old vs. new debate! Worst choice ever!
    Second, Luz Mely Reyes in Ultimas Noticias says that Leopoldo tried to reach out to Perez and Machado, but they were not interested. Capriles was only his thirs choice (http://www.ultimasnoticias.com.ve/noticias/actualidad/politica/las-claves-de-la-alianza–capoldo-.aspx).
    What I find interesting is that not only Miguel Salazar but also Rafael Poleo are implying that it’s all about the money, i.e. Cisneros and Mendoza trying to play “a tres bandas” to protect their interests. This contradicts Reyes, who seems to be better informed. However, that makes me wonder, who’s financing who actually? And how can they get away with it given chavismos’ all encompassing power?

    • moctavio Says:

      I dont buy it for a minute that Leopoldo reached out to Perez or Machado. In fact, I know they have been talking all along, they used to be buddies, remember? Somehow friendships from that stage in life are the best ones.

      • Syd Says:

        Agree. And if one were to review the first or second *debate*, LL by then was making an overture to HCR.

        Lo que inventan algunos periodistas …

      • A. Barreda Says:

        Well, it’s not only Luz Mely Reyes saying that, but also Carlos Blanco. I don’t know where Reyes and Blanco got their information, but it’s not as farfetched as you think…

    • A. Barreda Says:

      It’s true that they went to the same high school and whatnot, but it probably was a hard pill to swallow for Lopez to play the role of prodigal son returning to PJ’s door. However, I must admit that I don’t know whether he was in speaking terms with PJ or Capriles after he left PJ.
      On the other hand, I can see Lopez haggling with the different guys – Perez, Capriles, Machado – trying to get the best deal out there. That’s how politics work, after all…

  10. Ira Says:

    “but Lopez also needed a lifeline for his Voluntad Popular party, which requires funding for its candidates in the regional race and for its nationwide network. Lopez’ withdrawal would make it hard to have a continuous flow of funding that would surely go to the other candidates in the race. The move guarantees this funding.”

    Miguel, you totally lost me here.

    He withdrew, didn’t he?

    • moctavio Says:

      He did from the Presidential race, but his Voluntad Popular party is still running its own candidates in the regional elections, Governors in December, Mayors in March 2013. Lopez has a national structure with presence in over 200 municipalities, these are people that need to be paid at the end of the month, if Lopez withdraws, little funding is going to come his way, donors will go to the current candidates. By endorsing Capriles and having his network work for Capriles from day one, I am sure the Capriles campaign will provide the funding until October. We shall see what happens then.

      • Ira Says:

        Oh–so the funding will come from the Capriles campaign. Whereas if he just withdrew without the endorsement, the entire VP party is left high and dry.

        Do these parties get any federal funding at all? I know HCF illegally robs the state coffers blind for campaigning, but do opposition parties get any B’s at all?

        • moctavio Says:

          No, there used to be federal funding, but Chavez took care of that in 1999, banning Government funding completely.

  11. moctavio Says:

    Althpugh Voluntad Popular would not be eligible, your funding sued to depend on your votes in the previous election and they have never been in one.

  12. Ira Says:

    What are the possible scenarios of a Capriles win and LL’s eligibility for office?

    From day one of a Capriles presidency, can he legally make LL’s legal problems go away, making him immediately eligible for an appointment?

    • moctavio Says:

      Easy, Capriles can, as President, pardon him the minute he is in office.

      • Ira Says:

        But in the U.S., you first have to be CONVICTED before you can be pardoned–which is why Nixon was never actually legally pardoned.

        In other words, wouldn’t it legally require judicial intervention which is legally outside of the President’s control?

        Or are the pardon rules different in VZ?

        • moctavio Says:

          They are, had Chavez been convicted and pardoned, he could not have been President, Chavez was pardoned without being convicted. Lopez, in fact, was never convicted, which violates Venezuela’s Constitution that says your political rights can not be limited if you have not been convicted, but they invited this “inhabilitacion” by the Comptroller, precisely to ban poeple like Lopez from running when convenient. They banned him thinking of the metropolitan Mayor race, which the opposition won anyway.

          • Bruni Says:

            Miguel, Miguel , Miguel,
            Lopez was not inhabilitated because of the metropolitan Mayor race.
            He was inhabilitated because Chávez had an EYE on him since the beginning and wanted to make sure, with reason, that he could not compete against him.
            It was very clear for Chávez that Lopez was the most serious rival for him, so he inhabilitated until 2016, making sure he could not run for this election!

            • moctavio Says:

              At the time Chavez viewed him as a threat, but the most immediate race was the Metropolitan race, which would have been a stepping stone to the Presidency, if not, why ban him then? Time was proven that it would have been better to wait. But had he had the chance to become Alcald Mayor and do a good job he would have been unstoppable. Thus, it is just semantics in the end.

  13. Ira Says:

    Well, I’ve had Netflix for about 6 months now, and I love it. However, there has been one movie that I’ve refused to watch, but it has haunted me.

    I think today’s the day to do it, especially since it’s too overcast to wash my car:

    “South of the Border.”

    I know this is going to infuriate me, but I guess it’s the duty of any anti-Chavista to just suck it up and suffer through it.

    • Ira Says:

      It wasn’t as ridiculous as I thought it would be, although I found it humorous that Stone didn’t pronounce his name correctly throughout the entire film.

      Of course, the lack of reasonable contrasting views was to be expected, but I didn’t expect a TOTAL lack of such views.

  14. captainccs Says:

    In Venezuela today, there is no Law, only Judiciary Comedy.

    In a law abiding country two fellows are having an argument in a bar and one threatens to sue the other: “You are going to have to get a better lawyer than mine.” Same scene in Venezuela: “You are going to have to get a better judge than mine.” It’s all comedy.

  15. Cort Greene Says:

    Once again neither of the clowns left in the opposition have a ghost of a chance to defeat Chavez.

    Maria Corina Machado classes with Gene Sharp of the Aii and in pay of the US gov was not a good investment, hey!

    Rojo Rojito

    Cort

  16. GeronL Says:

    So, LL endorsed Capriles to keep the money coming in?

    How capricious. Just like another statist, lifetime politician.

    I think you should always endorsed the candidate closest to your views, even if they aren’t the frontrunner.

    If Venezuelans in general are like that, I guess Chavez is a shoe-in.

    • Ira Says:

      Do you think Capriles was so far off from LL’s views?

    • moctavio Says:

      No, but that was a consideration. Politics is non-linear, you are operating in an environment where donors are being tracked by the Government and where you have a very hard time getting money. He would have backed Capriles after Feb. 12th. any way.

  17. CharlesC Says:

    Alo Presidente-today(#378?) what a sick show. I didn’t watch it-I read it.
    No1.Artificial insemination in cattle is nothing new. Chavez talks like his government introduced it and is doing so many wonderful things to increase milk and beef production and of course much more is coming.
    How many million hectares have been “expropriated” by Chavez?
    Just endless lies and misinformation and threats..
    If what Chavez says is true- then why is there a shortage of milk, why does
    Venezuela import so much meat now?
    Of course, Chavez mentions the Cubans who are doing so much to improve agriculture in Venezuela? yeah, right. Explain to me how the “alliance with Cuba”
    translates into helping Venezuelan agriculture? (Of course, Chavez always claims that his good ideas, inventions, etc. all come from Fidel Castro..)
    How much land does his generals have now?
    #378 =pure garbage. Cancel that freakin clown show!

  18. Ira Says:

    Read a news story today in the Miami Herald about an old theater that collapsed in Havana and a guy died–The Campoamor Theater, built in 1921.

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/01/28/2612270/a-havana-theater-built-in-1921.html

    (Turns out this was the 5th building collapse within 10 days, but that’s a different story.)

    Anyway, the above article references a film where this theater was featured and inhabited by a guy who had nowhere else to live. I don’t know if he’s the one who died, because I didn’t catch his name in the beginning of the movie.

    It’s called “Habana–Arte Nuevo de Hacer Ruines,” and it’s loaded with insights. You can see it for free on YouTube, divided into 6 parts. (Spanish with English subtitles.)

    One story that really got to me:

    They interviewed an old-timer whose family’s large farm was expropriated at the beginning of the “revolution,” but they were allowed to stay on in the house, keep a tiny piece of the land, and had to pay rent.

    Well, he said that pre-Castro, the neighborhood kids would come and grab mangoes from the farm’s trees, and this guy’s father didn’t care at all. After the expropriation, and the state found out that THEIR mangoes were being stolen, they tore up the trees.

    I’m paraphrasing here, but the old guy said, with a hint of a giggle because of the irony of this solution and sadness because of the stupidity,:

    “So that was their solution to kids taking the mangoes. Kill all of the mango trees.”

  19. Javier Says:

    It’s irresponsible on the part of Lopez to have participaed in this debate and act and answer as a candidate when he knew from the start that he was going to step down and go with Capriles the next day.

    • Ira Says:

      Wrong I think on various levels:

      He either lost supporters to Capriles during the debate or won them from other candidates.

      Either way, it’s not a zero-sum game. His withdrawal…INCLUDING the timing…combined with his support for Capriles…can only help Capriles.

      Also, it’s not at all unlikely that LL DID all of a sudden decide to withdraw. This is a guy who has been in the forefront against Chavez from the very beginning, unlike ANYONE on that stage.

      It’s not so easy to just hit the brakes and say, “I give up.” It’s more likely that after his performance at that debate, looking at the reactions and numbers the next morning, he realized what had to be done.

      Good for Capriles, good for those wishing to remove Chavez, and good for LL’s political future.

      • Syd Says:

        agree, Ira, on “It’s not so easy to just hit the brakes and say, “I give up.””
        Switching gears on even a smaller public scale is not easy. The decision gnaws at you, often for months before you actually take the necessary steps. You know what you have to do, but it’s tough to leave behind the dream you’ve nourished — for years.

  20. steven Says:

    Re: What does Capriles stand for? I Doesn’t the fact that he was imprisoned by the regime speak volumes? Is there anything in his background that suggests that he would worse than Hugo at anything? If I was voting, and he’s ahead on primary day, he would have my vote.

  21. Ira Says:

    My wife was listening to VZ radio today streaming (she thinks Radio Caracas), and they did a report on a business they expropriated in Los Flores de Catia.

    No paperwork, no nothing, and the owner doesn’t even know if it’s legitimate because the uniforms for these guys keep changing.

    45 employees–out of work.


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