Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Amazing Venezuela: the case of Areo

Cedeño Municipality, Monagas State, on the Eastern Llanos of Venezuela

Uraco is the only municipality where the opposition has an alcalde (even if with a largely emasculated government after Chávez modified the competences for municipalities and states)

In 2008 in Areo, a village in the Northwest of Monagas state, a 135-year old lady called Lareyah de Cases Caden went to vote in the regional elections. In early 2009, she went back to vote in the new referendum where Chávez proposed the last thing people rejected in 2007 and he couldn't pass through special laws after that. Mrs de Cases has been voting since the 2004 referendum, according to registries the opposition could get from the National Electoral Commission. Before 2004 she wasn't politically active. We can fairly say Chavismo invigorated her. Mrs de Cases was a 27-year old woman during the Second Boer War and the Paris Exposition Universelle. She was a 72 year old lady when World War II came to an end. She became an 100-year-old lady when the Yom Kippur War took place. As I said in a previous post, Venezuela's rate of centenaries per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the National Electoral Commission, is 4 times higher than Japan's. I wonder if Mrs Lareyah de Cases's health has something to do with the waters of the Areo River or with the kind of food she eats. The Areo region was home to Carib Indians and perhaps there is something in the genes or habits we got from them that gives us that little bit of extra life and energy.

Votes in the 2009 referendum, parish Areo


The school where de Cases went to give her vote is the Escuela Básica Morita. Results for the 2009 referendum show that every one of the 550 registered voters at the Morita school . Everyone. Chávez's proposal was to introduce indefinite re-election for elected functionaries, which now allows a president in a strongly presidential, not a parliamentary system, to run for re-elections indefinitely. The proposal got a rather strong support at that school. Of the 550 voters, 547 voted for it. Only one opposed it and 2 voted null, even if that is not shown at the CNE site since 2009 (it does not show votes abroad since 2007).

We have no actas because the opposition did not manage to get witnesses for that school as for any other in many other areas there, but then: who is going to blow against the wind? Who is going to put in doubt the most modern and reliable electoral system in human history?


Areo is a parish part of the Cedeño Municipality. The mayor of Cedeño is the brother of the state governor, José Gregorio Briceño, a former member of the 4th Republic AD party who conveniently noticed the winds of "change" and switched to the PSUV and has been governor of the state since 2004. Mr Briceño is a lawyer from the private Santa María University, just like Cilia Flores. I still remember when I used to read in newspapers job ads for lawyers where employers warned: "Santa María lawyers please, do not apply".

The state is home to such luminaries as entrepreneur and military man Diosdado Cabello, one of the key coup mongers of November 1992 and probably one of Chávez's 5 closest men. Cabello is one of the 3 men president Chávez follows in Twitter. He is also key candidate for the National Assembly for the Monagas state.

A couple of months ago, Mr Briceño (the governor, not the mayor) visited Areo to inaugurate a new school for 400 pupils. I am happy the people of the area got that school, as I know a lot of children in many areas of Venezuela are in over-crowded schools, sometimes having classes under the skies. I do not know what kind of opposition there is in the region. I would suspect the guys there are rather clueless AD-COPEI-supporters who thought things could go on like they were before and, in opposition to the ones from the government, have no money for pork and much less for schools.

The governor and his family are strong in the state, but there is a certain cloud over their power. Since 2007 about 52 people have been killed by the state police of Monagas and most of the cases are very unclear and have to do with cocaine trade. If you speak Spanish, watch this interview of former mayor of the Aguasay municipalty and now candidate for the circuit where Areo and other municipalities are.

Monagas State is called after the Monagas family, who were military caudillos and presidents of Venezuela in the second half of the XIX century. Oil and drugs have changed the shape of the state forever. More on that in another post.

Hat tip to Amieres for the electoral details

Probably the oldest person on Earth

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