See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Venezuela: Discussion and Debate on the Road to Election Day

This post is part of our special coverage Venezuela Elections 2012.

With the battle for the presidency less than a month away, the conversation on the internet concerning the upcoming election on October 7 has intensified and multiplied. The conversation online highlights the separation between the visions incumbent Hugo Chávez and opponent Henrique Capriles have for the future of their country. As has become customary in recent years in Venezuela and its blogosphere, everyone is taking their side while pointing fingers at the other.

In the weeks leading up to the election, those supporting the government and those who are hoping that October will mark the end of Chávez's 14 year run will continue to debate challenges and concerns. The following statements serve to bring us as close as possible to an understanding of the complexities that remain hidden behind a division that, on the surface, only has two sides.

President Hugo Chávez visits Petare

President Hugo Chávez visits Petare during his campaign for the presidential elections on October 7, 2012. Photo courtesy of Jesus Gil, copyright Demotix.

Carlos Balladares, author of the blog Venezuela y su Historia [es] (Venezuela and its History), warns us what's at stake in these elections. He argues that reflection is necessary and that the questions cannot stop at a simple description of the government's performance.

No hay que ver cifras simplemente [Hay que] salir a la calle y vivir este país, especialmente en sus ciudades que es donde se desarrolla la mayor parte de la Venezuela actual. […] ¿Hay menos crímenes, en especial los que se cometen contra las personas? ¿Los crímenes son menos violentos en general? ¿Hay más empleos con buenos sueldos? ¿Hay menos inflación? ¿Hay más industrias y progreso económico en general? ¿Dependemos menos del petróleo? ¿Hay menos barrios (zonas populares con viviendas informales)? […] ¿Las ciudades son más humanas? ¿Hay menos tráfico? ¿Hay más armonía entre los venezolanos o más odios? ¿En general los venezolanos (especialmente los jóvenes) quieren vivir en su país o preferirían emigrar a otro?

You cannot just look at the figures [You must] go out on the street and live in this country, especially in the cities where today's Venezuela is developing. [...] Is there less crime, especially those committed between people? Are crimes generally less violent? Are there more jobs with better pay? Has there been a decrease in inflation? Has there been a growth in industry and economic progress in general? Are we depending less on petroleum? Are there less barrios (working class neighborhoods with makeshift housing)? [...] Are the cities more humane? Is there less traffic? Is there more harmony among Venezuelans or more hatred? In general, do Venezuelans (especially the youth) want to live in their native country or would they rather emigrate to another?

Antonio Aponte, on the other hand, extends a reflection [es] concerning the challenges he has faced and those that the Bolivarian Revolution still confronts:

La Revolución Bolivariana tiene el difícil reto de ser pacífica y de desarrollarse en un mundo donde el capitalismo campea casi unánime, sin el ejemplo de otra manera de vivir que emocione, en medio de un pavoroso manto cultural que sofoca cualquier pretensión de insurgencia contra el capitalismo. Se desprende que la Revolución , aunque pacífica en su accionar, requiere de un drástico rompimiento con lo viejo, que debe ocurrir primero en el alma de los revolucionarios.

The Bolivarian Revolution faces the difficult challenge of being peaceful and developing in a world where capitalism abounds almost unanimously, without an example of another way to live that moves and excites people, amid a frightening cultural cloak that suffocates any desire for insurgency against capitalism. It becomes evident that the Revolution, although pacifist in its actions, requires a drastic break from the old, which should start first in the soul of the revolutionaries.

In the post “Capriles no puede” [es] (Capriles Can't) we see Aponte's views on the opposing candidate, Henrique Capriles Radosnki. Aponte sees Capriles as someone incapable of carrying out what are considered necessary changes.

Capriles capitalista, no puede, no tiene albedrío propio para hacer algo distinto a los intereses de los capitalistas, lo que significa que tendrá que poner el país al servicio de los intereses del gran capital internacional. Ya lo sabemos, no es necesario leer su programa, el que niegan, es suficiente revisar su historia: miembros de “tradición, familia y propiedad”, organización de fanáticos fascistas, motores del golpe de abril que revocó los poderes públicos y a la Constitución que ahora hipócritamente les parece muy buena y dicen defender, mostró odio hacia Cuba, atacó a la OPEP [Organización de Países Exportadores de Petróleo].

Capitalist Capriles, cannot, does not have the will to do anything against the capitalists’ interests, which means that he will place the country at the beck and call of international capital and its interests. We already know it, we do not need to read his agenda, which they deny, it's sufficient to review his history: members of “tradition, family, and property”, an organization of fanatic fascists, driving forces for the April coup that revoked public powers and the Constitution that now hypocritically seems great and something to defend, demonstrating hate towards Cuba, attacking OPEC [Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries].

Henrique Capriles Radonski in Caracas during his presidential campaign.

Henrique Capriles Radonski in Caracas during his presidential campaign. Photo courtesy of Jesus Gil, copyright Demotix.

Among those holding countdowns to the elections is José Hernández, from the blog Textos y Anexos [es] (Texts and Appendixes). Apart from the countdown, this blog shares figures and articles that, according to its author, support the cause of Henrique Caprilles over that of Hugo Chávez.

Despite the tendency to argue one viewpoint, there are opinions that present both sides. In the case of blogger Petrusco, his vision comes from the center. Using this approach, and to conclude, we refer to the observations made by Petrusco [es], who notes that no matter who wins, there are major risks that should be taken into account:

De ganar Capriles eso significaría un importante retroceso para el país. Sin duda el plan de quienes promueven y pagan esta candidatura es el de retomar lo que estaba sucediendo aquí hasta 1998, en términos económicos, políticos y sociales. Contarían para ello con el apoyo facturado de los medios de comunicación, los cuales manejarían, con su acostumbrada habilidad, un coco perfecto para asustar a la oposición: aquel de que en el chavismo “todo era peor”.

A win for Capriles would signify a serious move backwards for the country. Undoubtedly, those who promote and pay for this candidacy have a plan to retake what has been happening here since 1998, in economic, political and social terms. To do so, they would count on the billed support of the media, which would operate, in line with its customary skill, as a perfect boogeyman to scare away the opposition: that in Chavismo “everything was worse”.

Speaking towards Chávez he adds:

De ganar Chávez eso significaría un peligroso estancamiento para el país. El encontrarse con que han sido reafirmados en el poder, luego de 14 largos años, sería entendido por muchos funcionarios malos, mediocres o corruptos que hacen vida bajo la etiqueta del chavismo, como una señal de que lo que están haciendo está bien y por lo tanto no necesita ser cambiado.

A win for Chávez would signify a dangerous stagnation for the country. For many poor, mediocre or corrupt officials who have lived under the label of Chavismo, finding that they have been reaffirmed in their position of power, after 14 long years, would be ill-understood as a sign that what they are doing is okay and therefore, nothing needs to change.

Petrusco writes in a final reflection:

Elegiremos entre dos grandes riesgos: retroceder o estancarnos. A menos que suceda el milagro, deseado por todos, de que nuestros políticos y empresarios dejen de comportarse y actuar como siempre lo han hecho desde que en estas tierras existe algo llamado “democracia”.

We will choose between two huge risks: reverse or stagnate. Barring a miracle, one that everyone is hoping for, that our politicians and businessmen stop behaving and acting as they always have since something called “democracy” exists in these lands.

This post is part of our special coverage Venezuela Elections 2012.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices
* = required field
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site