Carlos Blanco's A Time to Talk, released on August 5
An unfair process is underway involving the government, the National Electoral Council and National Militia
Henrique Capriles' campaign is getting stronger. His rise is evident on the streets, and he has drawn his weapons. Unexpectedly, he has begun to set the agenda for Chávez. The other camp has no idea how to counterattack.
The most recent pinnacle of absurdity has been the president's refusal of claims that the opposition candidate is related to Simón Bolívar. The issue is senseless as a topic, but the fact that this unsettles Chávez is absurd in itself.
The official sector is short of political answers and is showing signs of desperation. No one in his or her right mind can say that Capriles has a lock on the presidential race, but voters from a certain deciding sector flirt with the opposition candidate as the president is losing his charm with a campaign short on imagination.
Chávez's campaign is in such bad shape that the president is making amends with his enemies from the business sector and the middle class; of course, it will last for only two months. Chávez has not lost the elections, but he may very well end up doing so by a short margin of votes. In certain regions of the country he has already, as of today, been defeated.
Now, the democrats face a decisive period in which all efforts and energy must be focused on the final stretch. Two visions exist within the opposition: a dominant one represented by Capriles and his group and another one based on the need and desire for the victory of an opposition candidate, but both hold different views about direction at this phase of the campaign. Both are after a win by Capriles and share enthusiasm and desire, yet they do have their differences.
THE INFANTRY IS NOT ENOUGH. In war, to gain ground, infantry is essential, but artillery, engineering, logistics and intelligence are all essential components. Diversity of weapons is related to achievement of targets. This also applies to the political struggle within democracy, which is diverse by nature. Different functions and visions find common ground. It should be noted that the movement of masses from 1999 to 2005, so widely criticized by today's leaders, paved the way for subsequent progress.
The use of different "weaponry" begins. Some things are said by the candidate, others are spoken by Leopoldo López immediately thereafter, while Armando Briquet makes other announcements, but so do the representatives of NGO's, highly influencing communications. This diversity may also spell the difference in how to achieve them.
Accepting this is what democracy is all about. Nevertheless, there is an unsettling level of intolerance in the core of the opposition that does not want a debate or ideas different from the core group and its policies. The passion for unified thinking, lone and unsettled, is misguided as leaves no room for changes.
One of the experiences that these supporters of Chávez-like uniformity must take into account is Capriles' refusal (nonetheless accurate, as he did after all win the primary election) to attack Chávez. He talked about issues but not about the cause or responsible party. Progressively, Capriles adopted a critical position of his adversary and camp, and extraordinary and productive shift took place: he began to attack the president or, as he calls Chávez, "the other candidate". Whether that was the plan or they listened to the masses is irrelevant. Change took place, and Chávez went on the defensive, at least temporarily.
CURRENT ISSUES. The majority within Capriles' camp believes that the current course of the campaign must not be altered by discussions or lateral confrontation distracting from the objective. They believe that the secrecy of votes is secured and that 100% of the voting stations will be guarded by the opposition and that there will be no room for treachery and outbursts from the official sector.
The premise behind this position is far from ingenuous; this vision knows about the government's unfairness, of legal and illegal efforts by the regime aimed at winning, but the opposition believes that if votes are on their side and are counted, results may not be altered. This approach does not discard that violence may ensue, but the context of a democratic victory, the opposition believes, leaves no room for violence.
Another group believes that votes will remain in secrecy, yet there is a significant portion of Venezuelans that does not believe this because the government, cheekily playing the fool, casts doubt over this issue. Therefore, accepting fingerprint-recognition machinery, in addition to the voting machine, seems like a powerful dissuasion against the right to vote freely. The topic of overseeing voting tables is another significant issue because thousands of tables have been created, many in locations controlled by Chávez's followers. But, the most troubling aspect is that an unfair process is underway involving the government, the National Electoral Council and the National Militia taking part in the Republic Plan politically controlled by Chávez's party in addition to issues concerning improper use of Electoral Records, physical availability and control of voting equipment, which create conditions for electoral fraud in two dimensions: one deriving from use of Electoral Records, creating an unfair advantage that intimidates voters, and another one derived from the actions of the government, its party, the Electoral Council, the National Militia and the Armed Forces may take place on election day.
This position stresses the need to defend this stance vigorously so that some of those fraudulent factors are no longer present if only to evidence their existence even though they may not be removed from influencing elections.
The dominant stance within the opposition believes that pointing these issues out may play up the intimidation procedures of the regime and cause greater abstention. Another group believes that only with a realistic vision of the challenge and vigorously denouncing electoral conditions can the elections be won and the victory be acknowledged and upheld even if it is disputed by the other camp.
The candidate will apply any of the strategies that prevail in the end. This situation looks promising, as the desperation of the official sector is evident. The fact that Sandra Oblitas from the electoral governing body has opted for the gold medal in absurdity, by banning the use of Capriles' cap bearing the colors of the Venezuelan flag, sheds light on another fear, the one felt by those currently in power.
Translated by Félix Rojas Alva
José Vicente Rangel clearly said: "We are not conducting negotiations threatened with a gun in the head." He warned behind closed doors in the midst of the social upheaval occurred during the oil strike in 2002 and 2003. Dissenting Timoteo Zambrano answered back that no other option was available: "The thing is that otherwise, you do not negotiate."