So it seems – hay un camino!

Only a week and two days to reach October 7 and nerves are running high. At this moment a fair stance is a neutral one: the race is not clear neither for the incumbent nor his opponent. However, at this precise moment I´m inclined to believe Capriles has the weather gage.

Recently, some of the polling firms that show Capriles winning have published detailed reports of the studies they´ve carried out along September. Just to mention one, here are the numbers state by state of the last field study by the respected polling firm Datos-Interdata,

ESTADO POR ESTADO A ESCALA NACIONAL

ENTIDAD ENCUESTADOS NO CONTESTA CONTESTAN POR CHAVEZ % POR CAPRILES %
AMAZONAS 96 6 90 54 60,46% 36 39,54%
ANZOATEGUI 1.007 8 999 455 45,61% 546 54,39%
APURE 310 3 307 185 60,34% 122 39,66%
ARAGUA 1.165 7 1158 595 51,38% 563 48,62%
BARINAS 525 9 516 291 56,34% 225 43,66%
BOLIVAR 942 10 932 441 47,38% 490 52,62%
CARABOBO 1.516 44 1.472 676 45,76% 799 54,24%
COJEDES 223 5 218 128 58,72% 90 41,28%
DELTA AMACURO 113 6 107 63 59,08% 44 40,92%
DISTRITO FEDERAL 1.609 33 1.576 794 50,38% 782 49,62%
FALCON 635 45 590 308 52,31% 281 47,69%
GUARICO 501 41 460 265 57,63% 195 42,69%
LARA 1.198 12 1.186 541 45,60% 645 54,40%
MERIDA 577 10 567 261 45,99% 645 54,40%
MIRANDA 1951 36 1915 810 42,31% 1.105 57,69%
MONAGAS 595 9 586 308 52,52% 278 47,48%
N. ESPARTA 330 12 318 134 42,18% 184 57,82%
PORTUGUESA 578 11 567 337 59,55% 229 40,45%
SUCRE 628 5 623 320 51,37% 303 48,63%
TACHIRA 799 6 793 332 41,86% 461 58,14%
TRUJILLO 502 12 490 274 55,97% 216 44,03%
VARGAS 266 15 251 145 57,65% 106 42,35%
YARACUY 405 23 382 205 53,61% 177 46,39%
ZULIA 2.335 59 2.276 933 40,98% 1.343 59,02%
TOTALES 18.803 427 18.376 8.852 48% 9.522 52%

Here’s my brief qualitative analysis on these figures: first, it’s not far-fetched to imply that Capriles is winning by a large margin in Zulia, Tachira and Miranda but that he is to suffer a heavy defeat in rural states like Apure and Portuguesa.  On the other hand, it’s also reasonable to believe he is ahead in states with large cities such as Anzoategui, Carabobo, Lara and Merida which have a large concentration of voters who have likely been affected by crime, continous electric shortages and less employment.

Thus, at least this pollster’s results, which show Capriles ahead by 4 points, “feels” much trustworthy.

Still, a series of polling firms continue giving Chavez a “comfortable” lead which is not comforting at all. Some, like Hinterlaces and Jesse Chacon’s firm are already declaring the president winner. But this might all be a masquerade in light of a strong opposition, which clearly presents a threat to Chavista Hegemony.

At least my spirits are higher than a few days ago, when pollsters got together and all but one declared results that favored Chavez. Being a conservative fella I’d rather stick to my doubts and not get overexcited. Hey, but that’s me.

Alias Rosita

Reminds me of Austin Power's "Fembots". Amidst the election turmoil, other news might come unnoticed by readers but this one catched my eye: the actress and model Jimena Araya, commonly known as “Rosita”, was declared this week a fugitive of the law. Apparently she is being accused of helping the gangleader of Tocoron prison and 14 inmates of his inner-circle escape. Unless she was the one that digged the tunnel, one may expect this is the sort of story in which either she was the one that paid the bribe or seduced the guards into submission while the prisoner escaped behind their backs.

Pardon me but how did this woman ever get to be an actress in Venevision? – I guess by being voluptuous.- Didn’t they run a background check on her?  I mean, the authorities are even stating she was a member to the criminal gang of the pran prior to his imprisonment and that she trafficked women into Tocoron – guess for what purpose. Obviously she still was very connected to him, either sentimentally or professionally.

It’s not only on TV that women dressed in leather pants and jackets are members of criminal gangs. Couple of friends of mine were mugged by a woman motorcyclist carrying a gun. She even threatened shooting one of them when he threw his watch at her instead of handing it.

Still, how could Rosita maintain two parallel lives and never be caught? How are her colleagues feeling now? Likely they are freaked out knowing this woman could have been informing kidnappers of their whereabouts.

Perhaps in some other country, this issue might have brought lots of criticism to Venevision and raised a series of social issues. But in present day Venezuela where ethics are completely twisted thanks to 14 years of lawlessness and corruption, Rosita will likely become a role-model to the many women who – knowing no better – have followed the path of prostitution and crime.

In ode to aero-achievers

ImagenFew months ago I criticized  Aerovotar.com‘s initiative to charter a bunch of jetliners to take voters to New Orleans from Miami. I thought it sounded too elitesque given the outrageous costs of operating aircraft compared to the few people each can carry. The other discouraging aspect was that donating money to their foundation -disregarding the amount- did not guarantee a seat in the plane, which meant that if you are a limited-resources guy like myself, you were going to optimize any disbursement by dedicating it to your personal vote.

But a week away from the elections it is clear Aerovotar’s achievements are nothing short of remarkable and admirable. Two guys in their early thirties are responsible for the initiative which started with a perfectly setup web-page, and lots of public relations mixed with intelligent marketing. According to the directors, Venezuelans were not the only to donate; americans also joined the fray.

The result to this day: more than $330,000 in donations and about 1,000 voters being transported to New Orleans on chartered planes. Expecting a maximum of 10,000  Miami consulate voters out of close to the 20,000 registered (my own rule of thumb) that means they would be transporting at least 10% of them.

So feeling a bit stupid, I take back my criticism. Expense-wise I realize that flying back and forth on the same day is efficient to the point it would cost the same to take a greyhound bus for the round-trip plus one night in a decent hotel room.  On the other hand, Aerovotar.com was never meant for guys like me. It is intended for people who either do not count with the resources nor physicial capacity to travel to New Orleans and those on the other side of the balance who are willing to donate the money for the sake of the cause.

A look into FONDEN or shall we say SE FUE?

When I think of the title FONDEN, for some reason or other it rhymes in my head to SE FUE, (it’s gone) which is precisely what’s happened to the – hmm – not millions but billions of dollars that have been embezzled through this sort of petty cash fund at the service of the president himself.

We are talking of tranches of hundreds of millions each supposedly distributed into projects which have resulted in nothing but barren lots and rusty billboards with Chavez’s pictures imprinted. The article Reuters wrote on the fund, which you may find through my favorite blog Caracas Chronicles is much worth reading. Not that you’ll come out of it more intellectually savvy, just that you’ll realize this government’s ability to dumbfound anyone really has no boundaries.

Nothing is ever as bad as it seems?

If I were residing in Venezuela at this moment I´d be extremely frustrated at the possibility of Hugo Chavez winning the presidential elections. In fact, given my interest in being able to persuade both my wife and myself to return to the country, I become extremely irritated when I visit Noticias 24´s site -which although biased in favor of Chavez is still an important source of news- and am forced to read over reports on polling agencies predicting the incumbent’s victory.

But given I have already gone through the trauma of migrating -and don’t for a second doubt it was traumatic- I can draw scenarios – win Chavez or loose Cavez- neither which really present any threat to my life plans or my family at this moment.

For Venezuela’s residents who are fed up with Chavez and the violent country it has turned into, who after 14 years are exasperated by crime, corruption, bureaucracy and a sense of hopelessness, a victory by Chavez would pretty much mean a catalyst to drastic decisions. It would certainly be “as bad as it seems”. Thus, one speaks with dozens of friends who dare not even consider the Chavez-victory scenario for the fear of having to take much difficult personal decisions. For them, Capriles already won the race and they’ll defend their stance by underestimating the pollsters’ predictive capacities and placing hopes on pictures of Capriles’ massively-attended rallies.
Perhaps, as some bloggers have suggested, overoptimism is healthy since it’s the first time a candidate really seems to be a threat to the president’s regime. Might as well enjoy the moment and if the outcome is the undesired one, then there will be time to mourn.

But if push comes to shove, the reaction for many will not only be to mourn but to take a radical stance: fire-sell properties and take family members away as soon as possible. If Venezuelans have been migrating in large numbers along the last decade, expect it to continue and in larger volumes.
Inarguably, this would be the natural reaction. Under Chavez the nation will continue in the path of decay of the last 14 years. Why doubt it? It’ll be the same retrograds running the show. Expect crime to get worse, unprecedented expropriation to be executed, less goods to consume, less employement opportunities, less dollars and many more unfortunate surprises.

Misión carrito militar

Mientras el CNE sugiere un convenio de aceptacion de resultados electorales, la oposición entera se pregunta si las fuerzas armadas venezolanas aceptarían una derrota de Chávez. Estamos hablando del grupo de Venezolanos que más se ha beneficiado de la supuesta revolución bolivariana.

Generales, almirantes, tenientes, abordan cientos de cargos públicos, controlan las aduanas y puertos, las instituciones financieras estatales, el contrabando y pare de contar. Sin embargo, no todos llegan a las posiciones donde se manejan los grandes negocios y como todos tienen los mismos dereCHos electorales es importante que muy de acuerdo al socialismo, los beneficios abarquen mayor personal. Por eso la entrega de 200 carros patrocinada por el propio Henry Rangel Silva.

Pero bueno, 200 carros o 3,000 que Rangel Silva desea entregar el mes de Agosto son cifras irrisorias comparadas a los  356,000 integrantes de la FAN.  Como con las misiones, el gobierno aplica su efectiva estrategia comunical para hacer alarde de un beneficio que le llega a un grupo mínimo y selecto de militares.

En este caso, el mensaje va claramente a los integrantes de las fuerzas armadas: “apóyenme y quizás reciban un carrito y quién sabe, quizás un registro o una aduana en el futuro”.

Por su parte, el señor Rangel debe estar bien angustiado para apoyar tales actos de proselitismo político. Pero bueno, nada que uno no esperaría de este sujeto.

La mercofregada

Toda la información apunta a que la entrada de Venezuela en Mercosur fue influenciada por una serie de intereses políticos y económicos que tienen los países miembros sobre la nación petrolera. De lo contrario, que los llevaría a violar normas y convenios que el bloque constituyó como esenciales para la admisión de nuevos miembros?

Ni comentar por supuesto la polémica que la tempestiva entrada de Venezuela ha causado. Todo un evento “a la latino-americana”, el cual ha sido material de escarnio y hasta de burla para múltiples analistas políticos internacionales.

Aparte de petróleo, no es secreto que Venezuela no exporta ningún bien en cantidades substanciales y su capacidad de hacerlo está sufriendo el peor momento de su historia. Las políticas izquierdistas del país, la falta de un sistema judicial serio, las expropiaciones de empresas; son causantes que Venezuela no tenga nada que aportar al comercio externo aparte del petróleo que ya de por si exporta a Uruguay y Argentina bajo convenios muy beneficiosos para esos países.

Claro, hay Venezolanos ingenuos que piensan que eso puede cambiar gracias a la adherencia del país al bloque. Piensan que el país tendrá que flexibilizar el control de cambio y que Chávez tendrá que cancelar las expropiaciones. Hay otros que aseguran que ahora Venezuela tendrá que permanecer en la CIDH.

Pero siendo realista, estos cambios -positivos sin duda alguna- no van a ocurrir. Primero antes que nada, es dudoso que países miembros tengan la voluntad ni la cara para exigir medidas a Venezuela. Un ser humano racional no se compromete con alguien sin antes estar seguro con quién se está casando.

Segundo, el modelo económico de Chávez siempre ha dependido del petróleo y únicamente de éste. Chávez nunca ha demostrado ningún interés -más que de la tapa de la boca pa´ fuera – en que Venezuela produzca otros bienes para exportar ni en otorgarle condiciones idóneas al sector productivo para que sea más competitivo.

Por el otro lado, es importante analizar que pretende sacar el presidente Chávez del Mercosur. Aparte de inflarse de ego y alimentar sus ínfulas de líder continental, pareciera que pudiese tener motivos concretos -por no decir maquiavélicos- principalmente un aumento en la importación de alimentos baratos hacia Venezuela. Nada que beneficie a la industria Venezolana pero si a la popularidad del presidente como líder supuestamente  humanitario.
Y he aquí donde está la relación ganar-ganar entre Mercosur y Chávez.  Argentina, Brasil y Uruguay inundarán al mercado Venezolano de bienes producidos en sus países mientras que Venezuela, perdón, Chávez ganará votos.