Because I live abroad I could not follow the election until the end result. So this morning I woke up anxious to find out what the end result of the election would be. I was convinced that ‘El Flaco’ would win. Like many of you, I was shocked to find out what the result was. How could it be that Chavez won again? How is it possible that a government that mismanages a country so badly got reelected?
It was time to do research and reflection. I wanted to know why I got it so wrong. I concluded that I was being a dwarf standing on the shoulders of giants. ‘nani gigantum humeris insidentes’. And that I did not understand history to much and that my perception of what was good for the country was quite blurred. I heard the tones but I did not hear the message.
A large part of my perception is based on the people I talk to. These are my Venezuelan family, friends and acquaintances. Some live in Venezuela and some live abroad. They all have in common that they a relatively well off. Nobody in this group of people is poor and most of them are well educated. And because of this, we are all wearing pink glasses. One of tones I heard which pointed this out was a comment by a Chavista which stated that the opposition could only win when somebody from the ‘barrio’ could also comment while using his powerbook..
There are a lot of people in Venezuela who live beneath the poverty line. And 14 years ago, things were even worse. Something like arriving at a hospital in desperate need of medical attention only to find out that the doors were closed was very common. Being poor meant that you could not have hopes and dreams and nobody in the government acknowledged this. Poor people where a nuisance to them.
In that era Chavez came into play. His message was giving hope for the poor. After much suffering, someone finally stood up for them, someone who would not betray them. The rest is history. These people are the people who put Chavez next to Jesus, who almost turn violent when you start a discussion about politics with them. And to be honest, they have all the reason to do so. I remember years ago sitting in a plane next to highly educated Venezuelan who said to me. ‘Yes, I had all the opportunities and I did well, but now it is time for the poor’.
You can criticize Chavez all you want but he knows very well who his supporters are and he knows how to keep them on his side. Capriles tried to build bridges but as we can see, he was unsuccessful in doing so. His message was hard to swallow for someone who remembered how it was 14 years ago. He is somebody from the upper-class, and although he tried, he will never be able to connect to this group. Why? He has history and upbringing against him. His leftist message did not sound true to a large part of the population. To them he still is someone from the bourgeoisie and their track record is not all that..
You can see that the opposition still is paying the price of all the damage they have done in the past. You can say that Chavez is bad for the country, but just do not forget how his predecessors where. Do not forget how bad the opposition looked in 2002 and what this meant for the ones who just had gotten a little hope. This is the main reason why Capriles lost yesterday.
Yes, Chavez used every trick in the book, but he won. And if the opposition had the chance, they would use every trick in the book to. Yes there is a lot of corruption, but that would also be the case if the opposition was running the show. History proves this. And to be honest everyone is more or less corrupt. For instance, I do not know anyone who lives abroad and does not use the black market for getting their bolivars, and no one thinks that in doing so they are using money which is meant for ‘el pueblo’. Yes a lot of you are complaining that a lot of people vote for chavez ‘por la plata’. Isn’t voting for Capriles the same thing? Look in that dark place in yourself. Ugly isn’t it? We all vote for whoever we benefit from. And right now, more than half of Venezuela benefits from Chavez and it would take dratic measures to change that.
My pink glasses are on the table now. I now do understand why it went like it went. I now understand that I forgot about history and that my perception was colored. Maybe someday the opposition will actually be able to build the bridge. Maybe some of us need to act more like the family who run Santa Teresa. Do something before saying you will do something. Paid out of your own pocket and actually show that you really care. Give away a powerbook so someone can actually comment on this post..