A wise, longtime friend allowed us to post his private thoughts on what our friend says was the predictable outcome of the 15 February referendum:
What’s baffling here, from a comparative socio-political and behavioral science perspective, is the fact that no one in the media or in the political parties or even among the student groups has cried out the F word; not only in these elections, but in every election since 2004.
It’s as though the F word had been excised from polite conversation and public discourse.
I remember countless elections in the past, here in Venezuela in the good ole bad ole days – 1993 was a case in point (Andrés Velásquez, y con razón) – and of course in all countries (start with Peru in 2000 and then take your pick) where pro-democracy forces battling authoritarian incumbents go to the polls and lose, where FRAUD! is the rallying cry of the opposition.
But here, nothing happens, repeatedly.
*Marta Colomina, the consistently courageous, in-their-face, one-woman crusade against (President Hugo) Chavez whose influential weekly column commands the top of El Uievrsal’s op-ed page, has insinuated that the 15 February referendum’s results were cooked.
*Sumate’s Maria Corina Machado, another consistently courageous Venezuelan woman, has spoken of the over 2,000 reported irregularities (machine processing delays for the NO vote, ink that washes off with a swipe of bleach, etc.).
But no one is asking the obvious question:
When does a clear and consistent nationwide pattern of “irregularities” – all of which point to specific set of actions taken to 1) allow some voters to vote more than once, and 2) confuse and frustrate other voters resulting in their vote being annulled – become a clear and consistent pattern of vote fraud?
Hello? Is anyone connecting the dots – there’s just two of ’em! – here?
No one seems to want to walk over that line.
I think we have Teodoro Petkoff and Company to thank for that.
I had a long talk about this with a good friend Sunday night. As you saw from my note on Sunday morning, I had no expectation that the NO would prevail, although I was convinced, and became more convinced throughout the day, that most voters were NO voters.
But as you’ll recall, very early I predicted a 45-55 win for the SI.
Well, this good friend, who is very active in civic-cultural activities and has a high public profile, listened to me very carefully as I outlined the historic case (since 2004 at least) for fraud in elections here, how it works, how it’s evolved over the years in response to the work of Maria Mercedes Febres Cordero and other vote fraud researchers, how intelligently it’s done, and why and how it doesn’t always work, or even backfires, when the perpetrators miscalculate the range of votes they need to win (2007 is a delicious case in point).
This friend then spoke to a dozen or so people yesterday (Monday) and came back to me last night with some interesting findings:
*Three out of four intelligent, informed people dismiss the fraud argument. They say, sadly, that things in Venezuela unfortunately have to get worse before this poor, ignorant mass of humanity wakes up and smells the coffee and finally votes in its own interest;
*The real “guilty” parties are the opposition voters (“we know they’re out there because the polls tell us so”) who failed to go to the polls on Sunday, as though a 33% abstention rate (contrasted with the highest pool of opposition votes – over 5 million – since 2004) were a slap in the face for democracy;
*Chavez is still incredibly powerful at the community level and can mobilize his people with sticks and carrots and ultimately get a majority of the voters to come out in his favor.
And what does this all add up to?
*A heady but ultimately self-defeating brew of disdain for the downtrodden (“they’re too stupid to understand what’s in play here”);
*Self-loathing (“we’re too complacent to even get off our butts and vote in sufficient numbers to make a difference”);
*And a renewed respect for Fearless Leader, he who always manages to pull his bacon out of the fire, no matter what we do.
Oh, and I forgot to mention Depression.
A pretty good formula for defeat until 2021 and beyond, wouldn’t you say?
Seligman would tell the dog to go around the fence, but we keep digging.
I think you have to understand the game in its entirety in order to see why the adaptive response to this kind of situation, whether it’s in Venezuela, or in Washington, D.C., or in downtown Manhattan, should be massed outrage instead of some sort of quiescent retreat from consensus reality.
No, amigos, the reality is not what you think it is…
Anyhow, the other side of the story is that my friend found several people who excitedly confided that they were happy to find someone else they respected who believed the same thing they did: We Wuz Robbed!!!! Again!!!!
But they had a hard time coming out and making their convictions public because this would invite public ridicule from the pundit class.
In 2007 I became amazed when I observed that very qualified experts could make presentations to senior opposition leaders, and go through two hours of laying out a broad spectrum of walks-like-a-duck-talks-like-a-duck examples of anomalies and irregularities that, taken in the whole, all pointed to a clear, intentional pattern of vote fraud since the 2004 recall referendum, and that absolutely no one in the room showed any curiosity or willingness to connect even a few of the dots. It was like talking to Jorge Rodriguez’s CNE!!!
The presentations would end with polite silence from the attendees, a few perfunctory show-me-the-evidence questions, and then looks around the room that basically said “Well, we’re done here, aren’t we?”
Bottom line: until there’s a change of players at the top of the dung-heap, until those who were compromised in 2006 by accepting the regime’s take-it-or-leave-it deal of money to fund their presidential campaign and promises of political legitimacy after the election (“we’ll recognize you as the loyal opposition and quit calling you ‘golpistas'”) in return for an uncritical acceptance of the 12/06 election results (a 25-pt spread — now, that’s really rubbing your face in your own shit, isn’t it?), until that class of political operators who have even managed, imho, to waylay the student movement are supplanted by a genuine, organic opposition to this regime and its policies….
…until that happens, ain’t nothin’ gonna change in Venezuela.