Written by Juan Carlos Hidalgo, policy analyst on Latin America at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.
Venezuelans will go to the polls on Sunday for their most important presidential election in a generation. At stake is the end of the thuggish, corrupt, and autocratic 14 year-old regime of Hugo Chávez.
The opposition, led by Governor Henrique Capriles Radonsky, has a real chance of winning the vote—if it’s fairly done. The most credible polls show a very tight race with still a number of Venezuelans undecided. However, there are good reasons to believe that most of the undecided are actually “hidden” votes for Capriles, people who are intimidated or afraid to express their support for the opposition candidate.
As I’ve written before, it won’t be a fair election. Four out of the five seats in the National Electoral Council (CNE) are loyal chavistas. The CNE has resorted to increasingly dirty tricks. The latest has been to announce that people who mark one of Capriles’ pictures in the ballot won’t actually be voting for him, but for a lesser known third candidate (see the explanation here).
The electoral registry, which is controlled by Cuban operatives, has increased its size by 58 percent since 2001, even though Venezuela’s population has risen only 18 percent during that period. Fourteen of the country’s 24 states have more registered voters than total adult population. There is even the documented case of 2,272,706 voters that appear to live at the same address.
“I am concerned for the security of our great nation, not so much because of any threat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within.” — Commanding General Douglas McArthur
A few weeks ago, a friend sent a YouTube link of a conversation between a radio show host and a man identifying himself as a police lieutenant in North Carolina, who claimed America was about to slide into internal war and martial law, saying the ATF is recruiting from local and state law enforcement agencies to form an internal security force to suppress domestic insurrection. The catalyst for the insurrection would be a collapse of the American economy, intentionally triggered, leading to a complete collapse of the social infrastructure, giving the government a pretext to consolidate power.
My response to her was that this was elements of truth mixed with a heavy dose of conspiracy theory, and suggested she’d feel better if she’d prepared her family for any emergencies by making sure they can defend themselves, and have enough supplies for their basic needs. After all, these things would be useful in situations other than the one she described, whether it be a home invasion by armed thugs, or the aftermath of a natural disaster where there was no access to electricity, fresh water, or food for an extended period.
I hoped that had calmed her fears, but the more I thought about it, the more I could understand how someone could come to these types of conclusions in light of the political environment unfolding in our country today.
As you’ve probably heard, Hugo Chavez, who for 14 years ruled Venezuela and had long been a thorn in the side of American presidents, passed away on Tuesday. Chavez had been fighting cancer and died from a massive heart attack.
This was welcome news to expatriates of the South American country, many of whom left after Chavez began to implement his leftist agenda and crack down on dissent.
Strangley, Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY), who recently introduced a resolution to repeal the 22nd Amendment, praised Chavez via Twitter last night:
Hugo Chavez was a leader that understood the needs of the poor. He was committed to empowering the powerless.R.I.P. Mr. President.
— Jose E. Serrano (@RepJoseSerrano) March 5, 2013
It didn’t take long for Rep. Serrano to have to explain that one. In a statement from his office, Rep. Serrano said that he met Chavez during a visit to his district in 2005.
Despite an exit poll showing him down to Henrique Capriles in his bid for re-election, Hugo Chavez was declared the winner of yesterday’s election in Venezuela:
Fighting for his political life, President Hugo Chavez overcame a vigorous challenge by Henrique Capriles in Sunday’s presidential election, receiving another six-year term that will give the populist firebrand the opportunity to complete the consolidation of what he calls 21st century socialism in one of the world’s great oil powers.
The victory, announced by the National Electoral Council late Sunday, gave Chavez the win with 54.4 percent of the vote, while Capriles took 44.9 percent. In winning his fourth presidential election since 1998, Chavez captured just over 7.4 million votes to 6.1 million for his adversary, turning back what had been a determined battle by Capriles, a 40-year-old former governor.
Chavez’s supporters, many of whom come from Venezuela’s poorest neighborhoods, took to the streets in celebration last night after he was declared the winner of the race. Capriles conceded that the lost not long after the results were announced.
While it’s still too early to say that Hugo Chavez has been defeated in his bid for re-election in Venezuela, but exit polls show that the socialist president is losing to Henrique Capriles Radonsky, who is leading the center-right coalition. The excerpt below, found via the Drudge Report, has been translated into English:
The candidate of the Democratic Unity Table (MUD), Henrique Capriles, be imposed against Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez in the presidential elections held on Sunday in the Caribbean country, according to a poll exit polls by consultancy Variance the absence of closure of polling stations. The time set for the closing were 00.30 Spanish time, however, and because of the long lines in some of them, have remained open for another hour, until 01.40.
Despite the express prohibition of the Venezuelan electoral law to publish polls, apparently the opposition leader would get 51.3 percent of the votes, while the incumbent candidate would get the 48.06 percent of the ballots.
Could a regime change be coming in Venezuela? Based on a report from the Wall Street Journal, Hugo Chavez is trailing his opponent, Henrique Capriles Radonsky, in the South America country’s presidential election, which will occur tomorrow:
Venezuelans head to voting stations this Sunday in a race that is proving to be Mr. Chávez’s greatest challenge after nearly 14 years in office. The president has promised a deepening of his statist policies if he wins another six-year term. However, his campaign was slowed down over the past year as he battled an undisclosed type of cancer, which Mr. Chávez says he has overcome.
The survey conducted by local private pollster Consultores 21 found the challenger increasing his support to 51.8% while Mr. Chávez declined to 47.2%, according to Saul Cabrera, director of the firm. The survey was conducted as a vote simulation between Sept. 27 and Oct. 2 using 1,546 respondents. It had a margin of error of 2.5%.
Chavez, a self-described socialist, has aligned himself closely with Fidel Castro and nationalized several sectors of the Venezuelan economy. He’s also been a thorn in the side of the United States, though not a real threat.
Despite the poll above, there are still concerns about events that could influence the potential outcome, some of which were laid out by Juan Carlos Hidalgo. But if Chavez is sent packing, there aren’t going to be many that will shed tears.
Back in July, I noted that Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez had “endorsed” President Barack Obama in his bid for re-election. Chavez, who has enacted a number of policies to nationalize parts of his country’s economy, made it clear once again over the weekend that his preference in the race is President Obama:
With both presidents facing tight re-election fights, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez gave a surprise endorsement to Barack Obama on Sunday - and said the U.S. leader no doubt felt the same.
“I hope this doesn’t harm Obama, but if I was from the United States, I’d vote for Obama,” the socialist Chavez said of a man he first reached out to in 2009 but to whom he has since generally been insulting.
Breaking news…socialists like Obama over Mitt Romney. I’m shocked — shocked, I tell you. Back in June, the Communist Party USA made it clear that they were backing Obama and Democrats in 2012, choosing what they consider to be the “lesser of two evils.”
Nevertheless, Obama’s hawkish foreign policy and contempt for civil liberties doesn’t exactly jive with the stated views of the hardcore Left, many of which were recently explained by Conor Friedersdorf and expounded upon this morning. Not to mention that, despite his pro-labor views, Obama really is really just another corporatist, when it all comes down to it.
And yes, the title is meant to be funny. Venezuela’s socialist dictator, Hugo Chavez, recently said some nice things about President Barack Obama and took some shots at this opponent, Mitt Romney:
Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez has signaled a preference in the U.S. presidential campaign by comparing Mitt Romney to his own challenger.
Chavez, who is up for re-election a month before U.S. President Barack Obama, has in recent weeks expressed a clear preference for the man currently in the White House.
In a campaign speech Saturday night, Chavez equated the agenda of his challenger, Henrique Capriles, with that of Romney, saying both men represent the callously selfish capitalist elite.
“I believe the person to best explain the loser’s agenda isn’t Barack Obama but rather Romney, because it’s the extreme right-wing agenda that borders on the fascism of the United States,” Chavez told tens of thousands of supporters in the western city of Maracaibo.
“In the end, it’s the same project,” Chavez said, referring to Obama as “a good guy.”
Over the past couple of days, there has been a back and forth between President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign and Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign over the threat, if any, that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez poses to the US. It started Tuesday when President Obama was interviewed about ties between Iran and Venezuela:
Obama had been asked by Miami’s America TeVe if he was concerned about what has been a public show of solidarity between Chavez and Iran.
“The truth is that we’re always concerned about Iran engaging in destabilizing activity around the globe,” the president replied. “But overall my sense is that what Mr. Chavez has done over the last several years has not had a serious national security impact on us.”
“We have to be vigilant,” Obama went on. “My main concern when it comes to Venezuela is having the Venezuelan people have a voice in their affairs and that you end up ultimately having fair and free elections, which we don’t always see.”
The hyperventilating overblown rhetoric that has resulted from hawkish neocon Republicans is of course predictable.
In a written statement, Romney assailed what he called “a stunning and shocking comment by the president.”
“It is disturbing to see him downplaying the threat posed to U.S. interests by a regime that openly wishes us ill. Hugo Chavez has provided safe haven to drug kingpins, encouraged regional terrorist organizations that threaten our allies like Colombia, has strengthened military ties with Iran and helped it evade sanctions, and has allowed a Hezbollah presence within his country’s borders,” Romney said.
Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez is always good for a laugh if nothing else. The unabashed socialist has said some pretty ridiculous things in his efforts to bash capitalism and justify socialism, but this latest might just be the best one yet. You see, Chavez has proposed the theory that life once existed on Mars, but then Walmart showed up and the whole thing went to hell:
From Yahoo News:
CARACAS (Reuters) – Capitalism may be to blame for the lack of life on the planet Mars, Venezuela’s socialist President Hugo Chavez said on Tuesday.
“I have always said, heard, that it would not be strange that there had been civilization on Mars, but maybe capitalism arrived there, imperialism arrived and finished off the planet,” Chavez said in speech to mark World Water Day.
Chavez, who also holds capitalism responsible for many of the world’s problems, warned that water supplies on Earth were drying up.
“Careful! Here on planet Earth where hundreds of years ago or less there were great forests, now there are deserts. Where there were rivers, there are deserts,” Chavez said, sipping from a glass of water.
Seriously folks, I can’t make this crap up. I wish I could though, because I’d have a career in comedy. It’s safe to say that Chavez has no basis on his “theory” except for the crazy, idiotic ramblings in his own brain, and that’s what makes it so amusing.
Yahoo also mentions:
He added that the West’s attacks on Libya were about water and oil reserves.