Yesterday, our democraticaly elected president, Hugo of Sabaneta, as usual in cadena nacional (forced TV and radio transmission) wished all of us a Happy 2010. He said that if the bourgeoisie - obviously never meaning his billionaire friends - returned to power, they would desmantle "the achievements of the revolution", that his people have to guarantee we do not lose the majority in the 2010 parliamentary elections" and that if the opposition were to get that majority, they would destabilize the country. So far for his love for plurialism.
The National electoral council is working very hard now to define the key electoral districts again in a show of massive gerrymandering. In January we shall find out how they transformed the electoral regions for the most populous states. Two of the council's key members are hard-core chavistas who had previously declared they would do anything to guarantee the success of the so-called revolution.
Hugo also announced "major advances" on crime reduction, citing again some magic chavista numbers about people's perception of crime. Never mind the government refuses to discuss openly about numbers on murder rates. Never mind the murder rate in Venezuela was 19 per 100000 in 1998 and now it over 60: crime is, according to chavismo, in the eyes of the beholder. Never mind Hugo of Sabaneta recently announced the national police was getting a 260% rise now as an achievement, as if the government had been elected just some days or months or years ago.
Perhaps - best case scenario - we finally see next year a reduction of the murder rate compared to this year, which is not hard given the current numbers, given the fact we have long become South America's most dangerous country. If this were to happen, I am sure the government will announce it as a huge success, even if the rate would still be several times worse than when the government took office over 10 years ago...then people in Venezuela have a very short memory retention span.
As the red-very red National Assembly diverted a huge amount of the budget from the municipalities, the states, the Ministries of Education and Justice to be directly controlled and distributed by the president, he will have some cash in hand to impress a bit for election time. He will probably close a couple of very bad deals with the chinese or the Spaniards or someone else to get some fast cash as well. Things will not be easy economically, as even Ow (former chavista) says in his latest post here. Still, the government is the one with the petrodollars and the opposition not.
Still, the opposition has to wake up and at least use the few opportunities it has. It does not communicate well. It still thinks it has to talk through Venezuela's FOX version, Globovision, which only reaches the converted. Most of the new opposition leaders are people with middle to upper-middle class background from the capital or the largest cities. It does not matter that most chavista leaders are wealthier than many of those leaders now. It is a matter of perception in Venezuela, at least with voters.
Most know Venezuela is highly urbanized. What the opposition leaders and many of their supporters don't seem to realise is that "urban" is much more than just the capital and the other largest 5 cities. As soon as we get out of those regions our influence drops dramatically. We have forgotten the "rural urbans", so to speak. The opposition will need to put its act together with regards to defending the votes outside the major 5 cities during the September elections. Those leaders will really have to move their asses.
Below you have a couple of maps about the 2008 local elections. Firstly you have very urban and central Miranda state. Then you have the rural Monagas. In red you see the municipalities won over by chavista mayors. In blue those the opposition got (kind of, as the government rushed to decrease their resources and competences). The dots represent population (a big dots means 100000 inhabitants, a midle one about 50000, a tiny one some 10000).
The third map shows my region, another very central and urban state, with Venezuela's third largest city and one of the main industrial sectors of the country (as far as we can talk about industry in Venezuela). The blue and cyan regions refer to those municipalities where the current opposition governor, Salas, got the majority. The pink and red municipalities are where the other candidate, Mario Silva, won. This is incredible as 1) Salas is well-known and his dad was also governor of the state and 2) Mario Silva is hated even among chavistas. One of the things that happened was that Salas, who comes from a family of people who were players in the local politics already 2 centuries ago, is acting as the usual local caudillo, wanting every other group, including PJ, to accept his candidates.
Finally, I put here the start of a Mind Map about Second-in-command Diosdado cabello (aka God-Given Hair, aka Pretty Eyes). He is very linked to billionaire Berrueco, who just recently fell from Grace. Diosdado's Ministry had signed some obscure deals with the Spanish government as Gringo tells us here (and in other places), deals with no public tender and the like. As the electricity problems of the country have become just too much, Hugo of Sabaneta recently passed the control of the electricity industries away from Diosdado to a new Minister, the minister of Popular Power for Electricity, Rodríguez.
Let's see what fortunes await Diosdado and the other Second-in-command, Aristóbulo Istúriz, who is capable of anything for the "revolution", but who seems not to be connected to very murky billionaires and deals (as far as I know).
In spite of it all, I think we have good chances to avoid the worst and start turning Venezuela towards sustainable development and away from autocrats and other caudillos. For that we must work.
In that spirit I wish you a very happy and succesful 2010!