This is a member of the Venezuelan opposition, a student
Today I attended a presentation on the Venezuelan situation in the offices of WOLA. The presenter was Georgia University Associate Professor David Smilde, who has had extensive experience in Venezuela. As I understood him , he made three basic points: (1), the results were surprisingly close but the electoral process went well; (b), the U.S. was wrong in not recognizing Maduro as president; and, (3), Capriles overplayed his hand by acting very aggressively and painted himself in a corner.
Professor Smilde tried his very best to be objective and he succeeded to a large extent, as far as his narration of the electoral process went. But he showed a moderate pro-Chavista bias when interpreting the Venezuela events.
(1). He said results were surprisingly close and that Maduro had emerged weaker from the process. He said that every poll had given Maduro 10 or more advantage points before the elections. He forgot to mention one pollster (DATAMATICA) that saw Capriles winning or another pollster that saw Maduro winning by one point (DATIN). Other pollsters, such as Hinterlaces, GIS XXI and Meganalisis, all of which predicted a landslide victory for Maduro are clearly paid by the government and lack all credibility. DATANALISIS was categorically wrong and should probably retire from the business. What really happened was that Maduro ran a pitiful campaign and managed to lose whatever advantage the deceased Chavez had passed over to him. The man is an illiterate and unfit even to drive a bus, much less to govern a country. He managed to lose almost one million votes that had gone to Chavez in the last elections.
The professor also said to us that the Electoral Council had performed well. He did say that Mrs. Lucena, the head of the Council, was pro-government but left us under the impression that she was a fair person. He did not mention clearly that the other three ladies were equally pro-government. In fact, all four ladies are controlled by the regime and are simply ordered to do what the regime wants them to do. The professor showed bias in saying that the Council had performed well when, in reality, they systematically refused to clean up the REP, the voter’s register, from deceased voters, from people over one hundred years old, from voters without fingerprints and other irregularities and forced voters abroad to travel 1400 miles to vote. They also failed to penalize numerous abuses of power and violations to the law by the government during the campaign. The day of the elections there were many irregularities, including intimidation and assisted voting (in which a person clad in strong red colors, the color of the regime, “helps” the people to vote behind the curtains, no doubt making sure he, she votes for Maduro).
(2) Professor Smilde also said that the U.S. had made a mistake not recognizing Maduro’s win and that Maduro felt “betrayed” by the U.S. He said that the U.S. was isolating themselves since most Latin American countries had recognized Maduro. In this respect I can only say that governments meeting in UNASUR did recognize Maduro but demanded the audit in order to do so. This is what Santos and Piñera said after the meeting. I find this posture too pragmatic for my taste, in fact hypocritical, and feel that the position of the U.S. is more principled.
(3) The professor said that he felt Capriles had acted very aggressively just after the election, calling for pot and pans demonstrations, calling Maduro illegitimate and calling for a march to the CNE. He said that Capriles had “painted himself into a corner”. I strongly disagree with the professor. All indications were that Capriles had won the election and that Maduro as trying to steal it from him. His actions were justified on that basis. On the other hand, aggressive, insulting language has been Maduro’s and his cronies: Cabello, Jaua, Iris Varela (please see video of Mrs. Varela calling Capriles a drug addict and telling him that she is going to put in prison. She is the “minister” of prisons and during her tenure hundreds of inmates have died in violent clashes. She has been photographed sitting on a prison bed with the leader of a criminal gang). See video : https://snt137.mail.live.com/default.aspx#n=1362988789&fid=1&mid=27e6aff0-ac60-11e2-95e3-001e0bccc9ae&fv=1, (where she calls Capriles by his mother's name, incorrectly, "Radosky". )
Minister Varela fraternizing with leader of a criminal gang
The violence of the regime is very well documented. The opposition has no guns, nor shock troops, the regime does. I am willing to go to a session of WOLA to show graphic proof of such violence.
Venezuelan marcher shot by the Chavista armed force
In summary, I felt that professor David Smilde gave us a reasonable , although sketchy, account of the current Venezuelan situation but showed a definite bias in favor of a political regime that, in my view, is behaving in a disastrous manner. I thank the moderator, Mr. John Walsh for letting me use more time than I should have as a simple attendee.
I must say that the Venezuelan situation calls for an open debate so that U.S. audiences can get both sides of the coin. Could we have one in WOLA soon? Two on each side? How about it?