How The Venezuelan Presidential Vote Was Won

October 19, 2012

Steps to make sure an all powerful Government easily wins an election

Step 1: Create a Database with over 2.5 million people

The whole process begins with creating a direct aid program that will impact the largest number of people possible. It does not matter if your record in that area is dismal. Just over promise, there is no time for people to know whether you will deliver or not.

The name of the database: Mision Vivienda

It’s simple, massively publicize a program aimed at building homes for the Venezuelan poor. Each home has a multiplying effect, as the typical home in Venezuela has between four and five people living in it. Never mind that over 2.5 million people register for it and you have built less than 500,000 housing units in 14 years in Government. Just have people fill out the following form, with every detail about them that you can think of:

Yes, have them place even their Twitter handle, salary, job, detailed address, conditions of the home. This is 1984 on steroids, let Big Daddy know everything about you. Don’ bother with telling us if you are registered to vote, we will find out right here:

By going there, we will find out if you registered to vote and if you did not, we will go to your house and get you and take you to register. We not only get you to register, we also tell you at the same time that we know where you are. While we are there, we may even examine your house, just to make sure your data is true, or so we say. Close to a million homes of the more than 2.5 million people who registered were visited.

Step 2. On Election Day, in the afternoon, show up and ask: Have you voted?

Call it Operacion Remate, have a lot of cash ready, even military vehicles, tell people you will pay, you will take them. And make sure the person showing up, if possible, was the same person that took them to register in the Electoral registry or that went to inspect their house to “check” if they were “eligible” for the dream Mision Vivienda home.

Hope springs eternal. That is the main driver of the database.

And this works because of Abstention, with a capital “A”:

Recall my earlier plot:

(By the way, if you click twice on graphs you can see them in the original version)

Let me explain this graph again. The columns represent groups or strata of 2.5 million voters from the Parliamentary election from the most pro-opposition (on the left) strata to the most pro-Chavez one (on the right). In the first column on the left you can see the opposition obtained 80% of the vote, with 27% abstention and obtained 1.046 million more votes than Chavismo. As you can see, as you move to the right, Chavismo does better, even if abstention goes up. The increase in abstention is progressive until it drops from group 6 to group 7 from 39% to 36%. Thus, the more Chavista voting centers had much more abstention in 2010 (high 30%’s) than the extreme opposition (high 27%). That is a huge difference, given that 5% of the votes is close to one million votes.

This is what led me to model what would have happened in 2010 if abstention had been lower and asked myself: How much lower did it have to be in order to move the 2010 results to a tie? The answer scared me, it was only 4% in an election with 32% abstention. Most pollsters were saying abstention wold be 27-28%, thus I concluded that abstention would have to be below 25% for Capriles to lose, but except for one pollster that I don’t follow (who claimed abstention would be in the single digits), nobody was suggesting it could be that low and in any case in 2006 abstention was 25%, there was no reason to think it would or could be lower than that.

I did not count on the Mision Vivienda database or the Chavista plan to use it so extensively. Neither did the pollsters. To me, pollsters had to get three numbers right, the difference between the votes of the two candidates, the abstention and a good guess as to how their undecided would split. No pollster got more than the first number right and given that the second one was so important for the first one, as we will see, it is essentially meaningless that they got it right.

Because in the end, abstention was 19.3%, some 8 points lower than any pollster or analyst had predicted. That is all of 1.6 million votes! and as you can see in the chart above, that only favors Chavismo, as we are talking up to a 20% higher turnout in areas where Chavismo won handily in 2010, like 63%/37% in the “red”column in the above chart or 17% in the crimson column to the right, where Chavismo won by a 76% to 24% vote.

The Results

But it was even worse than that. Much worse. Turns out the  ¨undecided¨ were not really afraid to say that they were going to vote for Capriles, as most analysts (and pollsters!) interpreted, many of them were apparently worried about saying they were going to vote for Chavez, as the opposition did grow around them and they could feel it! Thus, it seems as if those large numbers of undecided went evenly or maybe even in larger fractions for Chavez than for Capriles.

Let’s first look at abstention levels in the seven groups of voters in 2006, 20010 and 2012:

The top curve was the regional election, where the opposition won. The one in the middle was the 2006 Presidential election and the green solid line at the bottom was this Presidential election. See the difference? IT IS HUGE! In 2010 we won, basically because Chavismo did not go and vote, while we did. Period. No other interpretation possible. This time around we showed up, but they outdid us in the increases in voters at all levels. Note also that abstention in groups six and seven on the right above are similar, evidence that there was less “phantom” voting that in the regional elections, as the opposition had witnesses in more than 90% of the voting places, as evidenced by the fact that it has the Actas from them and that the opposition did better in Chavista states.

The fact that the lower abstention hurt the opposition across the board can be seen in the following slide, which shows that the opposition lost ground in all seven layers of the first plot.

The second column shows the percentage of votes Capriles got in each of the seven strata of 2.5 million voters, the third Chavez and the last column shows how much the opposition lost ground, percentage-wise, in each of the seven segments of the population. Note that even in Strata 1, where the opposition won by almost 80% in the regional elections, our numbers actually went down by 3.3%. In fact, it was at the lowest levels, strata 7, where we lost the least ground, which may be related to having more witnesses coverage in those areas and fewer “phantom” voters.

Another way to look at how we lost ground between the two elections is to look at the growth of the votes in terms of percentages, for each strata for both sides, as shown in the next slide. This is simply the percentage growth in the number of votes for each layer and each side:

As you can see, that is how good the Chavista mobilization was, even in the most pro-opposition centers, they more than doubled our increase. In fact, we only matched their increase in the number of votes at the lowest level. (Where we still got whipped!) Think about it, even where we are a majority, Chavismo increased their votes more than us. Sad, but true.

You can see the evolution of the difference for each strata from 2006, to 2010 and then 2012:

As you can see, in the 2010 regional elections, we got more votes in strata #1,#2 and#3. However, this time around we only won in the first two strata, #1 and #2.

So, is there any good news?

Some. This is how the opposition has grown steadily since 2006:

This graph shows the votes in 2006 in blue and the growth over that in 2010 and now in 2012. As you can see growth since 2006 has been significant in traditional Chavista areas, even if more work needs to be done. The black line shows the percentage growth. Special note to Lara, where Falcon has delivered the state to the opposition and did a great job in the Presidential election.

Perhaps you can see it better in the following plot by looking at how Chavismo has grown (or not!) since 2006:

But for the time being, watch out, if Chavismo and Chávez manage to use the Misión Vivienda database in the December Gubernatorial election in full strength, it will be a tough road ahead for the opposition. My bet is they will focus in specific states and the opposition may end up doing better than expected come December. But I tend to be an optimist.

(data from Comando Venezuela)

57 Responses to “How The Venezuelan Presidential Vote Was Won”

  1. edgarfp Says:

    We have states that are purely chavista (Portuguesa for example) for Chavez is too easy to focus to obtain the victory in opposition states (we only have 5 states). Another thing, if we lose Miranda, we lose Capriles leadership, we are betting all in with Capriles in Miranda. I think they would focus in Miranda because of this.

  2. PM Says:

    Don’t forget to mention that each application form needed one finger print associated with it.

    Miguel, I agree with what you’re saying. But I’m not sure it’s very professional to say millions of people were mobilized with state resources to vote on Oct 7th. For example, people are saying Chavistas were paid 2 thousand bills to vote without any evidence. In Mexico there was massive compra de votos but it was documented: there are witnesses, videos, etc. My point is that before we claim chavismo won because of their maquinaria we should first make a real estimate of how much this could have been. There’s also the possibility that Chavistas don’t like PSUV governors/mayors/MP but they’re super motivated to vote when it comes to Chavez.

    • moctavio Says:

      That is precisely what I do with the abstention levels. Do you really think these people went spontaneously to vote over every other time Chavez ran? In the barrio next to my home, they showed up in the late afternoon with cars, jeeps and trucks and took people to the center only two blocks away. There are pictures of military vehicles doing that and I believe the numbers confirm it. Do you think it is not true that they visited one million homes to “check” their status and see if they qualified for Mision Vivienda?

      • PM Says:

        A few of them probably did vote because it was Chavez (the very few chavistas I know didn’t vote in 2010 and many of them didn’t in 2008). But yes, I agree that a huge chuck of these out-of-the-blue-motivated-to-vote chavistas were dragged using state resources. My only issue is that since we don’t know, we might be kidding ourselves thinking that this mobilization accounted for the 1.6 million votes difference.

        BTW, 30 billion bolivares for “operacion remate” is not plausible. This is roughly 6 billion dollars in one day. In the US, the two main presidential candidates never spend combined more than $1 billion campaigning, in a country that has over 10 times our population..

        • moctavio Says:

          I am not saying the full difference was that, au contraire, I think we need more voters, many more. But note that we also went to vote, except they outdid us completely. If the difference in abstention was 8% and they got 3 for every one of ours, we are talking that they drove a million voters to the polls, not very comforting. How much they spent I have no proof of.

        • TV Says:

          Well, if you were to count all the work that was done abusing state resources and priced it on a commercial price, you could get a fairly large number.

          Some estimates would be nice, for the Carter (cbuh) center.

  3. TV Says:

    Well, I see no reason to doubt your analysis.

    The tough question is how can it be countered? The one way I see is by constantly forcing Chavizmo to use it. People will get tired of being forced to vote in this way sooner, rather than later – especially since Chavizmo promises will certainly fall flat, the moment they deliver is the moment they loose power.

    • moctavio Says:

      We need more political leaders that go everywhere, menos politicos de salon, more inclusion, but we also need more funding, that was really hard for teh Capriles campaign, you could not ask companies to give it money directly, the Government was watching.

      • TV Says:

        Yes, I agree with that. More leaders all over the country that try their best to clip votes from Chavismo. If they will be forced to as extreme lengths as they were this time, the strategy will backfire sooner rather than later.

        The funding will be tough however.

        There is another critical problem – Venezuelan economy and non-Chavista society is dying. The way I see it is that if legislative elections do not see a resounding Chavista defeat, Chavizmo will be able to slowly strangle the opposition economically.

      • Kepler Says:

        I think we basically agree on everything, even if I bug with certain things more… things you consider much less important (and I just “less important but still important)

        What I was puzzled about was how the opposition just takes all these abuses as “matter of fact” without denouncing them…the purpose is not to denounce them to the state or the judiciary as we have no state and no judiciary in Venezuela but a government called Chavismo.

        The thing is to denounce this at international level…for what will come.

        Look at those vehicles used by the military. So you saw them? How come we got so few protests about that on the media?

        I posted also about the PDVSA jeeps in Carabobo. My friends sent me pictures. I posted one of them. There were hundreds, over 500 hundred big jeeps in PDVSA Guacara alone which were – again – distributed throughout Carabobo to carry people to vote. Surprise, surprise, they made the biggest difference in the places where a lot of people usually have transport problems. The areas in Carabobo with the highest participation levels were Morón and next to Guacara…and surprise surprise: that’s where the PDVSA centres were from which the jeeps were distributed.

        Why didn’t our opposition representatives sent this information to OAS, to UN;, to the international media and said: “this is wrong, this is almost as bad as fraud”?

        • TV Says:

          Well, there are a few problems. UN, for example, tries hard not to intervene in such cases. “It’s an internal matter”, they’ll say. As far as UN is concerned, Venezuela can have fradulent elections, they won’t do anything and they can’t do anything.

          Furthermore, Chavez has paid off quite a few nations – Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Bolivia come to mind. It’s questionable if the latter three regimes can survive without Chavismo. Obviously they will claim that it’s an internal matter that no one should get involved in. Never mind that they had an international conference in support of Chavez in Cuba a month before elections – imagine the uproar if there was one for the opposition – they’re hypocrite scum.

          You’re left with US & friends. They will gladly condemn such abuses if brought to light, but it will be decried as imperialism in a knee-jerk reaction.

          There is preciously little that the opposition can achieve in the international arena at this time. I imagine offering bigger bribes would work, at least to highlight the problem in Venezuela itself …

          • Kepler Says:

            TV,

            I don’t think the OAS or UN will do anything now or later. But it is about letting everyone know we did that, we are complaining to all of them. It’s about how we are seen everywhere outside.

            • TV Says:

              Well, it could help, and it could also backfire. Turning to outsiders for help is rarely seen as a good democratic tactic. Granted, it’s sometimes the only thing you can do, but it shouldn’t be taken lightly.

      • Raquel Silva Says:

        Do you believe you ar part of the opposition?

        Capriiles during this campaign was in the street with the people. The problem is that the opposition believes that the leaders must be the ones that do it all. But it is us ( the ordinary citizens) that must become active in taking care of votes, making our data in our neighborhoods to go get people that have no vehicles, are sick or have no money to go to their voting table.

        My neighbor, a 55 year old lady living in rural margarita town, hates chavez. I asked her to become a testigo (witness) during election, and her four sons too. Only take a course of two hours, get there at 5 am, and learn the law and do your best durin he whole day for a correct enforcement. While opposition leaders were saying all centers had testigos ( not true in margarita rural areas). Her answer was that she was too busy and her sons (24 to33 years old with university degrees) were not capable.

        After chavez won she said it was the oppositions fault (referring to the leaders) i answered yes, it is our fault (believing i am part of the opossition) . She voted, stayed all day watching cnn and globovision and her sons drinking beer planning a barbecue cause they were sure capriles would win).

        • moctavio Says:

          Unfortunately, that is typical, not only of the people but also the leaders. Many “leaders” did not participate in the campaign either. it is not something thta can be changed overnight.

    • HalfEmpty Says:

      Not necessarily fall flat, it only takes an irregular reward to a modest portion of the population to keep this game going.

  4. Dr. Faustus Says:

    “…If the difference in abstention was 8% and they got 3 for every one of ours, we are talking that they drove a million voters to the polls, not very comforting. How much they spent I have no proof of.”

    How much they spent…..indeed.

    As a result of all the ‘spending,’ the entire Venezuelan economy is now in peril. I am fearful for the Venezuelan people, even in the short term. First, there will be a currency devaluation in the very near future. It will most likely come just after the December elections. Next, as Venezuela pulls itself further and further away from western capital markets, they will need new sources for short term capital. Who? China? Again? And at what interest rate? 12.5% ? Finally, it is my belief that world oil prices will plummet in 2013, perhaps as low as 50 dollars a barrel. There is some solid evidence for this. Were this to be true, the entire Venezuelan economy could collapse with dire consequences. All those 2.5 million Mision Vivienda voters will suddenly realize that their dreams of a new home will be as a desert mirage.

    This whole scenario reminds me of 1983 and the secret pact between the Saudi’s and the Reagan administration to flood the world markets with oil, with the consequence of plummeting oil prices. The entire Soviet economy depended on high oil prices as their primary source of western currency. When that rug was pulled out from under them the Soviet Union’s economy spiraled out of control. It was swift and it was dramatic. By 1989 the Berlin Wall fell. By 1991 Boris Yeltsin sat on top of a tank in Moscow square and took charge of a new government. Just like Russia, Venezuela is dependant on a certain price level for oil. They count on it. Their economic forecasts are all geared toward maintaining that price. There are no ‘what ifs.’ And, just like the Soviet Union, any sudden changes to the price of oil will wreak severe financial havoc with their planning models. Chavez may have figured out how to drive all those vulnerable people to the polling booths a few weeks back. But he’s in no position to deal with economic reality. And it’s coming. There’s no stopping it, It’s like a silent freight train thundering through the night. The next 6 to 12 months will be some of the most dramatic in Venezuelan history. Count on it.

    • NET Says:

      Capriles sitting on a tank in front of the Bolivar Mausoleum….(where Chavez’s remains will also be resting)…

    • TV Says:

      This will be very interesting. I doubt many Chavez supporters realize just how ficticious this years’ Venezuelan economic performance is. It was achived solely through a massive burst of spending, outright looting of reserves and loads of extremely expensive borrowing. It will have to end, and the later that will happen the worse it will be.

      Legislative elections will be interesting.

  5. moctavio Says:

    Kepler: Denouncing these things day after day only help increase OUR abstention and in any case, they fall on deaf ears, none of these organizations will do anything. In fact, none of them conveniently were even invited to observe. They dont need more proof. Had we lost by 100,000 votes, we could raise hell, but we got whipped!

    • NET Says:

      All very true…meanwhile, the sheep will simply be led to the “democratic” slaughter….

    • syd Says:

      Miguel: There are three ways of denouncing. One, the “chilladera” of the more-or-less uninformed Maria Alejandra Lópezes. Two, the half-assed, no “methodology” repetitions from those who are a little higher on the thinking food chain. Three, the well researched, well thought out, well written historical analysis and current exposé by the uncommon Venezuelan, truly concerned.

      Only number three can ever make a mark, if at all. One is paja. Two is less paja.


  6. Merikkkans out of Venezuela. Get lost, you scum!

  7. Roy Says:

    An editorial written by a writer I am not familiar with named Thaelman Urgelles nails it in the following commentary published on Policymic.com:

    http://www.policymic.com/articles/16882/hugo-chavez-victory-in-venezuela-democracy-wins-but-proves-the-middle-class-is-as-oppressed-as-ever

    He is not saying anything that we have not said, but his summary of the situation is concise and elegant.

    • Dr. Faustus Says:

      Yes, that was very good. To quote:

      “In sooth, we are a disenfranchised minority. We are an oppressed minority. The Venezuelan people know this. Still, they turned their backs on us. Unfortunately, I’m not so blindly liberal as to deny that this procedure is democratic. This is what democracy really looks like. The democracy Plato rejected so harshly: The tyranny of the majority (in 19th century liberal discourse), of the barbarous mob, over the educated and intellectually autonomous few.”

      What happens now? Does the ‘middle class’ flee Venezuela? Are they all headed out the door? Where? to Canada? to Colombia? I am still of the belief that this will only hasten an economic collapse of Venezuela. And, and,…it’s coming sooner than you think.

      • Kepler Says:

        Well, I disagree this is what democracy is all about. Democracy, even for Greeks opposed to Plato included the rule of law. There is none in Venezuela.

        It was not only Plato who would have been completely against Chávez. Virtually any democrat in Greece would have been against him.

        Chávez is what Greeks called a tyrant, only that not as firstly seen, not as a saviour of the country (unless you are a Chavista), but as a military one.

        Chávez completely abhors real debates, among other things and our people haven’t been able to promote this idea about debates in Venezuela (no, they haven’t, you cannot be timid and propose a debate now and then, you have to go full Monty on that).

        We are up to a completely new beast: one that is capable of maintaining power only because of one single natural resource.

        If you want to go to something closer to Chávez in history, you would have to look at tyrants who decided to sell out their country and get protection from foreigners in exchange for some natural resource.

        The thing now is that in today’s world transportation and technology means those foreigners don’t even need to go over to the land and transform it perhaps, after all, into something better in the middle or long term.

    • syd Says:

      It seems that there’s a Thaelman Urgelles, hijo, who was born in Caracas and who wrote that article in policymic.

      The TU that corresponded with, c. 2002, is this one: http://germanfebres.wordpress.com/2012/03/12/thaelman-urgelles-en-el-nacional-anuncia-la-pelea-del-siglo-entre-chavez-y-capriles/ . Back then, TU (padre?) made a video of a presentation, disputing the manipulative editing by the two marxists who made “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”. Among the tools used by TU and his TV associate were “shadow analysis”.

      The presentation was appropriate for a Caracas audience, which would include a María Alejandra Lopez component. But it just was not persuasive enough (or tight enough) for a foreign audience, which was the alternate aim of TU and his associate.

      Getting back to TU (hijo?)’s article, he completely misses the gathering of the tribes by the consejos comunales, memmbers seemingly paid to track down those in the Misión Vivienda database, and get them to vote. I assume that there would have been coercion there.

      So yes, there was no technical fraud in the voting procedures where the mesas counted with oppo overseers. As far as I know. But there was heavy manipulation on the part of the chavista government to inflate its numbers in other ways, some covered by TU (hijo?).

  8. firepigette Says:

    The article posted by Roy and written by TU clearly shows us the success of the Chavez machine’s manipulations.Using the fig leaf of a computer system that technically seems to work on the day of elections,the government lays claim to having had ” democratic” elections while the innumerable amount of dirty tricks performed before election day, totally skewed the results.

    Quoting TU : “This is not equal to fraud, because the votes cast are not artificially changed, but it demonstrates that the democratic environment of fair elections is severely obstructed.”

    Talk about an oxymoron ! By definition if you severely obstruct the democratic process you cannot have fair elections and claim to have a democracy .

    To take one example: nowadays it is essential that both parties have funds to get their messages across.Not only does the government commandeer the media through cadenas and have limitless access to State funds but it also makes sure that private donors are inhibited from giving donations to the opposition out of fear of reprisals.

    These are authoritarian tactics, and this point by itself makes it impossible to have a democratic process.

    Aside from this, the long list of ways the gov. uses to secure a large advantage make it impossible to know what people really feel and how much their votes represent true opinions.

    Those who support this kind of false” democracy” might want to question their reasons why.

  9. Roger Says:

    What bothers me is even if they hauled all these folks to the polling station, how did they get them to vote for Chavez and why did they not go vote in the morning? I can only assume that they told them that they would know how they voted and thus better to not vote. One thought is that they told them that they could read their fingerprint on the touch screen. Also, the vote does not seem reflect the numbers of people at the street rallies. Where were all these people for the rallies? With the buses and govt employees adding all the barrio folk should have should have been monumental considering all of them got paid for being there. All this is hard to know without trusted contacts in those voting groups. Even the statement of MAS on Petkoff’s site made only general statements and in a guarded manner. Can’t say I blame them.

    • TV Says:

      Imagine if you subscribed to a subsidized government programme that your president promised in his next mandate. The government has a track record of punishing those that go against it’s wishes. You don’t vote, but a bunch of government thugs (yes, thugs) come knocking on your door in the afternoon and explain to you that you haven’t voted yet and they will take you to the voting booth now. When you go through formalities, you need to press down your thumb to an ID scanner.
      The government knew you haven’t voted yet, does it know how you’ll vote?

      If that’s not enough, you were also bombarded for the past 6 months with government propaganda, which said, among other things, that the only viable opposition candidate is a Nazi Jew who will sell his country to the American-Israeli empire, and you’ll loose the Cuban doctors and you can kiss your house goodbye.

      If that’s still not enough, the government candidate is the first person in decades to proclaim he’s working for the poor, and has done something for them. Granted it’s not much, and it’s grossly inadequate for the price that was paid, but he is the first one in living memory to do anything at all. You haven’t heard much good about the opposition, due to government propaganda.

      I’m not surprised they voted Chavez, not at all. It’s also a prime reason why Chavizmo will never deliver. If it delivered it would loose power.

      • firepigette Says:

        TV,

        ‘The living memory’ aspect is bothersome.

        CAPS first government had the Modulos, which my husband and I worked in during the 70’s, and they were a definite attempt to help the poor.Of course most of the younger voters were not around to know about it.
        They have mostly grown up with Chavez propaganda

        I personally don’t think refrigerators and TVs,or even houses can make up for the sweeping crime rates, that take away peace of mind,the ability to get around, and even life itself.

        In whose value system can you say the poor are really helped?

        Everyone knows that there are depreciating assets and appreciating ones.An education,a safe environment,and a fair justice system are assets that only help us to obtain the tools we need to create wealth for ourselves.

        TV, a home that cannot be maintained( for lack of funds), and fridges only depreciate over time, leaving the people as poor as ever, sadly still dependent on Chavez of course.

        • TV Says:

          Living memory was an exaggaration. It’s uncomfortably close to the truth though.

          Notice I did not say the poor recieved net gain. It’s debatable if they’re better off now with Chavez than with the old system. In the long term, they will be worse off. This isn’t questionable. But what matters is perceptions. To someone who can barely scrape by enough to eat, moving into a new home they could never afford seems like a wonder beyond measure. That it will get run down by the lack of maintenence they won’t be able to afford within a few years isn’t just something they’d think about later. It’s something outside of their experience altogether.

          It’s easy for you and me in relative comfort and wealth to look down on “stupid pesants” (who are neither) and wonder why they can’t see the obvious. It’s a huge mistake though – their experience is radically different from ours, what is obvious to you may not be obvious to someone from a radically different enviroment.
          This goes both ways, I’m sure living in a barrio gives you a wide range of skills and views that are unnecessary in our lifestyle – just like a fair justice system is in theirs.

          I do agree that if Chavez was really trying to help the poor most (though not all) of his policies would be the opposite of what they are now.

          • firepigette Says:

            TV,

            I mostly agree, but to add a few points :

            Back in the days when I did live in a barrio( Catia being one of them), it was different from today.Even Catia was safe back then and most people had enough to eat.I have heard many say lately that they had to give up eating meat .This was unheard of back in the 70’s .If there were people who had to give up eating meat, I certainly did not meet them.

            Also back then if someone in the barrios wanted to work hard and get ahead, the could…..now it appears that working hard is substituted by finding more ways to get money from the government, and the only path of betterment is by becoming a Chavista leader, who plays power games and represses others.

            I cannot even imagine what it must be like today with the crime, the drugs, the shortages etc.

            I don’t look on down on barrio folks, I actually identify with them to a large extent.I tend to prefer a simple life to a more luxurious one.

            • TV Says:

              Hm, I see.

              I would put it down to a general lack of information at hand in the barrios, coupled with constant propaganda. It’s not like it hasn’t worked elsewhere – look at personality cults elsewhere and you see the very same pattern: Stalin’s Soviet Union, North Korea, Mao’s China and Hitlers’ Germany to some extent all worked on that very same principle. Keep people uneducated, tightly control the flow of information, bombard them with propaganda about their Dear Leader, and they will love him. That they live in worse poverty every year won’t matter, since they will have the leader to save them. That he won’t save them won’t matter, because it was outside forces that prevented him from doing so. This is extremely far from truth, but how can you figure that out without perspective?

  10. Frank Says:

    Miguel, please make this a real forum. I think it might work with your goal of being less active, and at the same time having a vibrant comment section where there is less white space on the screen and peoples’ comments don’t appear in smaller and ever-smaller print. There are some references for fora like this, please pm me if you need some pointers.

  11. firepigette Says:

    TV,

    How can you figure this out without perspective?

    Very hard. Very hard.Almost impossible for most.

    I look at Belarus( where I have some family). It is only recently with the internet, and a bit of traveling on the part of some of the citizens that people are beginning to see that it is possible to live differently, and most Belorussians are well educated.

    Because of this it has been clear to me that education is not the key.While education is highly important for many reasons it does not prevent a dictatorship.

    The key to fooling the people are the mechanisms of propaganda, repression, restrictions etc.

    Chavez adds to that mix chaos and crime and silly limosnas….At least Lukachenko controls crime somewhat.But Chavez has a more passive population to deal with( Slavic people are very tough), and he does not have to repress as violently as does Lukachenko to achieve control.

    • TV Says:

      Over a longer period of time, education is the greatest threat to a dictatorship. This is for several reasons: high education typically means more added value in the economy, leading to higher wages and disposable incomes. It’s only a matter of time when people will demand political rights as well. You can’t take it away from them easily, since they aren’t easy to replace. You can’t counter them technologically effecitvely, because they know how to get around blocks (Great Useless Firewall of China). You can’t rely on propaganda, because educated professionals will see right through it (for the most part, anyway). You can’t buy them off, because they’re well off enough as it is.

      I don’t know about Belarus to see how it reflects there, but this is a general pattern. Lacking free flow of information Belorussian education probably isn’t en par with modern standards, though they could still have a decent, if somewhat obsolescent education in most fields.

      I find it interesting that Chavez perfers Lukashenko over the much more powerful Putin.

      • firepigette Says:

        Education in Belarus is amazing, and it does not prevent dictatorship.The fact that it doesn’t in even one country should be a wake up call for us to look at other important reasons.reasons.

        Many professionals in Venezuela do not see through Chavez.I even have a psychiatrist friend who to this day is posting on my facebook, little messages like:

        “NO TE DEJES LLENAR LA CABEZA DE FALSEDADES . ESTAS ELECCIONES FUERON ABSOLUTAMENTE TRANSPARENTES Y JUSTASDAPHNE NO TE LET FILL THE HEAD OF FALSEHOODS. THESE ELECTIONS WERE ABSOLUTELY TRANSPARENT AND FAIR”

        She is a well educated person, whose has a good heart.Why is she fooled by Chavismo?

        After a great deal of thought, I believe what draws her in, as I think it does many, is that Chavez is criollo and represents the people.My friend suffers from the emotional difficulties of someone who might be defined as a ‘resentido social’

        Once Chavismo takes hold of the mind and heart, then propaganda and limited access to outside info take care of the rest.

        Of course one could argue that this limited access to outside information shows a lack of education….but not necessarily, as you see in the case of my friend.

        People tend to see what they want to see, which indicates a strong emotional component to political opinion.

        Why would you think you cannot buy off well educated people? This has to do with morality, not education.Morality or a lack of it, is not restricted to people with an education.

        I met as many moral people in the barrios as I did in Caurimare.

        • TV Says:

          Yes, it is true that emotions can cloud judgment irrespective of intelligence and education, and that you can buy off educated well to do people, though both are much more difficult to do compared with poor, uneducated people. If you look at an individual level, both are indeed possible, but if you have a large body of educated people, you won’t be able to buy off or emotionally enslave many of them. A few here and a few there, yes, but the group as a whole (>80%) will just hate you more for it. That’s what I meant.
          I believe this is the pattern we’re seeing in Venezuela today.

          On the other hand, you’re obviously much better positioned to buy off poor people and to emotionally enslave poorly educated people (who are all too often one and the same). This comes as no surprise. Considering how Chavez kept power this year, it is evident Chavizmo must never deliver, if it wants to keep power.

          Belarus is somewhat different on the other hand, in that it never actually had democracy. Being born in a dictatorship is a bit different from being born in a democracy that turns in a dictatorship. I’d say this is where the difference stems from. On the other hand, it is entirely plausible Lukashenko will be overthrown sometime in the future, or that we’ll see a repeat of 1975 (?) Spain in Belarus eventually. As I said, I don’t know enough to judge.

          • firepigette Says:

            I think that Venezuela had only a taste of a semi- democratic situation, that was not enough to significantly change the tendency towards caudillismo and dictatorship.As soon as people saw its flaw they threw out the baby with the bath water.

  12. Kepler Says:

    TV,

    It is not that Chávez prefers Lukashenko. Putin would do, but the level of dependency is not the same. Lukashenko’s regime would collapse in less than six months if Putin (and to a lesser extent now, Chávez, before it was much more) didn’t give cheap gas and petrol to Belarus.

    I am going to say it in Latin: Putin lo tiene por las bolas a Lukashenko.
    Putin can afford to see Chávez when he wants.

    One of the issues with those countries is that most people do not speak another language and most of the information they get is in Russian from their own countries. Apart from that they can hear a little bit of Voice of America in Russian, some Deutsche Welle in Russian, but that’s it and the US has been the tradition enemy of the Soviet Union for decades.

    We Venezuelans belong to the Spanish community and even
    if we cannot say the Spanish-speaking media elsewhere is so incredibly good, at least there are more sources of information to choose than for Russian speakers.

    We also had some democratic experience before, even if it was rather rudimentary. Russians and Belorussians had none.

    I have read a couple of times from the Russian opposition that they are actually looking at us as an example! They were recently organising some primaries, even if they don’t seem to be as successful as in Venezuela.

    There is one big issue we have: the divide between those who belonged to the main 3, 4 cities and all the rest. That divide exists in Russia, in Belarus (to a lesser extent as there even in Minsk the opposition is not as strong as it should be) and in Venezuela.

    We need to know, to study hard the dynamics of the provinces in Venezuela.

    We also need to set up education networks to teach about
    1) basic economics (some Venezuelan bloggers have told me Venezuelans are not up to that)
    2) pluralism and the idea of real debate

    And then we can sow the seeds of change, change for good

    • TV Says:

      It is true that Venezuelan opposition has shown remarkable progress from 2006 to 2012. This didn’t escape Chavizmo, who pulled everything in their power, short of massive fraud at polls, to retain power. If MUD holds it’s ground, tries to contend elections and goes for those points you mentioned (plus a few minor ones), there will be only two ways left for Chavizmo – North Korea or Dodo.

      I hope it’s the latter.

      • Gold Says:

        Don’t know if you can call this “massive”, but it sure sounds like plain, good ol’ fraud: Eugenio Martínez, El Universal today

        “La revisión de los resultados publicados por el CNE indican que el presidente Chávez obtuvo 100% de los votos -no se incluye en esta relación los sufragios nulos- en 39 mesas de votación y logró ganar con 99% de los sufragios en 19 mesas. No obstante, integrantes del comando de campaña de Capriles Radonski para el área capital, insisten en que el presidente Chávez logró 100% de los sufragios en 669 mesas.

        Además el alcalde Metropolitano, nombrado como coordinador del grupo de apoyo a los comando regionales de la oposición ha denunciado que el Comando Venezuela no tuvo acceso a la sala de totalización del CNE.”

        We have to vote massively on 16D, all 7+ million of us, to be able to neutralize fraud in all its forms, as we step up our efforts to put an end to it. Now.

        • firepigette Says:

          Gold Why do you think the following?

          “We have to vote massively on 16D, all 7+ million of us, to be able to neutralize fraud in all its forms, as we step up our efforts to put an end to it. Now.”

          Exactly how will voting massively neutralize fraud in all its forms?

          To me this makes little sense and is a dangerous way to think.First of all it assumes the opposition knows exactly how Chavismo will commit fraud in the future and have the tools to counteract it.We simply do not have that much control.What can be done is a more honest exposure of the regime itself, and an attitude that repression will not be tolerated.So far I do not see that happening.

          By going to vote, without honest exposure ahead of time( like a certainty about Chavismo’s intent to fraud) and without a clear attitude of intolerance to the Chavismo mafia- we are giving the message to the world, that Venezuela is a democracy that holds fair
          elections and that through simple voting we can get rid of a dictator.Tell this to people in Belarus.I am sure that will find it helpful ;)

          This is absolutely absurd, but not at all funny,

          • Gold Says:

            I’m not joking.

            What I do find absurd is the notion of giving up Governorships to chavismo without a fight.

            • Firepigette Says:

              Gold, I sympathize but do not think that going to elections with same old passive mind set will produce good results.i do think we could win a few but in the long run this will only reinforce the fig leaf.It would most definitely help the fig leaf but will it essentially change Chavez’s grip? Doubt it.

  13. m_astera Says:

    I saw something disturbing at the Porlamar airport this week. After dealing with the “security” measures in various international airports I was flying in from Caracas and looking forward to just getting off the plane and walking through the terminal to get a taxi. Instead, all of the passengers were required to present their cedula or passport, which was then scanned while their photo was taken with a webcam.

    This was an internal flight, nacional, going from one state to another.


  14. [...] How The Venezuelan Presidential Vote Was Won Capriles: Tuvimos que luchar contra el gasto público más alto de la historia de Venezuela [...]


  15. [...] How The Venezuelan Presidential Vote Was Won Capriles: Tuvimos que luchar contra el gasto público más alto de la historia de Venezuela [...]


  16. You’ve made some really good points there. I looked on the web to learn more about the issue
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