Posts tagged Nicolas Maduro
Posts tagged Nicolas Maduro
The opposition’s big news, publicized for 24 hours, actually exceeded expectations. They played an audio recording (see transcript here) of television host Mario Silva speaking with Cuban G2 agent Aramis Palacio. The interview is crystal clear, vintage Silva vocabulary and style, and incredibly damning of Diosdado Cabello. In the recording Silva portrays Maduro as weak but honest and well-intentioned.
As one analyst put it, what was once an open secret, is now public knowledge. Nothing in the audio will surprise those close to the inner workings of the government. But it will have an impact among everyday chavistas as well as those independents that support the government.
Of course the question is how this audio, apparently taped by Silva himself in order to send to Raul Castro, got in the hands of the opposition.
At first glance this looks like a maneuver on the part of Maduro and Silva to bring to light Cabello’s treachery and definitively marginalize him. Supporting this interpretation is that Maduro did not order a cadena to block transmission until after the audio was completely run on the air. One could imagine Maduro using this to publicly confront Cabello.
I did an interview with Al Jazeera’s “Min Washington” program yesterday regarding the challenges and future of Chavismo without Chávez. I would put it up on the blog but it won’t air until next week and then will have Arabic voice overs. Here is a summary of what I said.
The first issue we talked about was Maduro’s rough first month and what it means for Chavismo after Chávez. I suggested that indeed it has not been easy. The election was closer than anybody thought it was going to be, with approximately 6% of the electorate switching from Chávez to Capriles between October 2012 and April 2013. Since then Maduro’s numbers have only worsened with majorities of the Venezuelan population disagreeing with the National Electoral Council’s (CNE) decision to not do a full audit, and some polls suggesting that Henrique Capriles would win if new elections were held. The optics of the April 30 violence in the National Assembly (AN) were terrible, and the government’s video trying to blame it on the opposition only turned tragedy into farce.
What is incredible is that Maduro’s rocky first month has come without really beginning to address the significant political and economic challenges Venezuela faces. There has been no talk of the communal state-something that is important for the left part of the coalition. And only in the past week have Venezuela’s economic issues come to the fore.
On April 14, Venezuela’s voters shocked the world by electing Nicolas Maduro to the presidency with a narrow margin-just weeks after he enjoyed a fifteen point lead in the polls. This is not the first time that Venezuelans have upended expectations. On August 15, 2004, they reaffirmed support for then-president Hugo Chávez in a recall referendum that most people were confident Chávez would lose. On December 2, 2007, they turned back Chávez’s attempt to change the constitution, less than a year after they reelected him with an overwhelming majority.
Universal and anonymous suffrage gives citizens a unique ability to change the course of history, a course normally determined by people in power. Venezuelans have done it time and again, a fact that Venezuela’s leaders would do well to remember as they navigate the current political crisis.
Over the past 48 hours I had the opportunity to see the latest polling of Venezuela’s most reliable firms. Of course, Venezuelan electoral law says we can’t talk about numbers at this stage of the game. What I can say is that indeed there has been an interesting narrowing in the gap between Maduro and Capriles. However, the numbers now look similar to where they were before the October elections and it seems likely that Maduro will win with a similar margin of victory, perhaps somewhat smaller.
That said, the main lesson I took away from seeing various pollsters results is that the unique elements of this election—coming on the heels of a popular president’s death, with a successor that people do not know well, who a couple of weeks before Chávez’s death took the most unpopular of measures in Venezuela (devaluation)—means that the numbers are unusually volatile.
All of this is not just a moot point since the gap by which Maduro wins will be the main focus of the results. If he can repeat Chávez’s margin or improve upon it he will be in a strong position. If he gets anything less than an eight point margin it will raise doubts within his coalition that he is the man to carry the revolution forward. It would also energize to organize for the municipal elections this year, legislative elections in 2015, and an eventual push for a recall referendum
AJE on the Venezuelan Elections
Watch Al Jazeera English’s Inside Story Americas talk show on the Venezuelan elections. CSIS’s Carl Meacham, CEPR’s Alex Main and myself talk about the issues of the campaign.
Hugo Pérez Hernáiz and David Smilde
Yesterday we mentioned the significant incumbent’s advantage accruing to the office of the presidency. Most analyses of this advantage in Venezuela focus on the use of state media and obligatory broadcasts (“cadenas”). But other forms of incumbent’s advantage such as inauguration of public works and special budget announcements get less attention. Indeed in Venezuela inauguration of public works and announcements of new spending plans in course of campaigning rarely turns heads.
As mentioned yesterday, Venezuela’s electoral law provides scarce controls on such activity insofar as it is entirely vague on when an incumbent candidate is acting as a candidate, and when as holder of elected office.
Socialist Party (PSUV) candidate Nicolás Maduro is taking full advantage of this ambiguity. The following is a list of the announcements made by Maduro since the official start of the campaign on April 2. These are not campaign promises, which are a legitimate part of campaigning, allow the voter to know what a candidate plans to do if elected and can later be used to hold him or her accountable.
Rather these are announcements of government expenditures that Maduro has approved as an elected official. Just to make clear that the following reports are not based on distortions from the opposition media, all of the following links are to official state media.
On April 1 the party hierarchy of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) quickly pushed back against a “critical open letter to President Maduro” from Chavista intellectual and media figure Nicmer Evans. Evans’s letter suggested that Nicolas Maduro’s candidacy could become a superficial effort to carry on and continue Chavez’s legacy. Responding to the letter, Elias Jaua, the current foreign minister, said “now is the time to close ranks, there will be time for debate later”
This exchange raises a question about the central goal of the Maduro candidacy and its likely tension with the goals of Chavista believers in “el proceso” (referring to the Bolivarian process or revolution) of grassroots political change they see as underlying Chavez’s initial rise to the Presidency.
First and foremost, Maduro needs to establish his legitimacy as an elected politician. Here’s why: He has never run for national office. Maduro was elected to Congress with the MVR faction in 1999 and continued to depend on his position on the PSUV ticket to win elections. And though he was appointed by Chávez as his political successor, Maduro spent most of his time in government carrying out foreign policy and out of the public spotlight.
Hugo Pérez Hernáiz and David Smilde
Chávez was poisoned by dark forces that wanted to get rid of him…The cancer that the comandante was suffering from, time will reveal, broke with all of the regular characteristics of the illness… Everything indicates that they were able to affect his health with the most advanced techniques.
Nicolás Maduro, Monday, March 11, 2013
Everything has been coldly calculated…For weeks spokespersons came out saying they had had work meetings for five hours…You Nicolás, I know you´re watching, were capable of playing with the hopes of the people. Who knows when the President died. You had everything arranged.
Herique Carpiles, Sunday, March 10, /2013
Venezuelan’s have become used to conspiracy theories in recent years, both form the government and the opposition. Conspiracy rhetoric formed a big part of Hugo Chávez’s political discourse, with frequent denunciations of plots to assassinate him and of foreign and local enemies working to sabotage the revolution. Evidence to support these denunciations was almost never made public. However, they served the purpose of centering public opinion on a threatening “enemy,” against which constant vigilance and mobilizations were necessary on the part of Chávez supporters.
Hugo Pérez Hernáiz and David Smilde
As the procession of thousands of supporters carrying Chávez’s remains progressed slowly through Caracas streets on Wednesday, March 6, the President of the National Assembly Diosdado Cabello tweeted that he could hear the people chanting ¡Chávez al Panteón, al lado de Simón! (“Chávez to the Pantheon, next to Simón [Bolívar]”). He added that “the voice of the people is the voice of God” and that the National Assembly would do everything to fulfill its wishes. PSUV leader Freddy Bernal also tweeted that his party would ask the National Assembly to amend Article 187 of the Constitution which states that the honor of resting at the National Pantheon can only be awarded after 25 years of the death of eminent Venezuelans.
Following are some baseline question and answers about the Venezuelan transition.
1. What happens next?
The Venezuelan government has declared seven days of mourning. The funeral is said to be scheduled for Friday the 8th. The Constitution says that a new election should be called within thirty days. This has generally been interpreted to mean in thirty days. One thing to watch for is if the government decides the election should be in ten or fifteen days instead of thirty. This would make sense from their perspective to take advantage of the wave of emotion and support for the government in the aftermath of Chávez’s death and a state funeral.
2. Who’s in charge now?
Vice President Nicolas Maduro will be interim President. It is not actually clear who should be in charge constitutionally. The 1999 Constitution says that if the president dies within the first four years of his mandate the Vice President will take over and call elections within thirty days. However it also says that if a president-elect dies before taking the oath of office the President of the National Assembly becomes interim President. On January 9 the Venezuelan Supreme Court argued that Chávez was a reelected president and that the oath of office was not necessary and could be postponed. Thus it is not entirely clear whether Chávez, when he died, was president elect or had already begun his new term but without the oath of office. The government clearly seems to be working on the latter interpretation. Some in the opposition are arguing that it should be AN President Diosdado Cabello and suggest that Maduro’s being interim President is a coup d’état.