HAVANA TIMES — Thursday was the end of the election campaign for the Venezuelan presidential elections set for Sunday, April 14. The campaign should have been called a brawl, because the verbal sparring between the candidates on both the right and left was really raw.
Nicolas Maduro — a supporter of Chavez’s legacy and whose campaign command used the name Hugo Chavez. He brought out a truly “red tide,” as the supporters of the Socialist Party call themselves.
Henrique Capriles, the candidate of the right, was no less adept at bring out the crowds, with a notable margin of difference, though not very large. This time his supporters held up the name Simon Bolivar and dressed themselves in blue.
Never has a campaign been so well covered in Cuba. This one was even more intense than the one held this past October in that country, where the outcome was the reelection of the now late president Hugo Chavez.
However this campaign — I imagine due to the importance for the future of Venezuela and, by extension, for Latin America and the Caribbean — has been followed in every detail in our country through unending television broadcasts.
For those of my generation, unless they have lived outside the island, traditional election campaigns are oddities. From a young age we were taught that many of these types of money-driven events reflect the unjust character of the capitalist system.
These involve the spending of large sums of money and resources to conduct political proselytizing by this or that party. These opposing groups usually make all types of promises to the people and rail against each other, even attacking aspects of the candidates’ private lives.
The vision we’re always given is that election campaigns are displays of political party electioneering, where each group tries to be more dramatic than the other in order to win the most votes at the polls.
In reality, that definition we’ve been here in Cuba given isn’t so far from the truth. In Venezuela, we saw both sides using all kinds of resources to win.
One side appealed to the dirtiest and least ethical media campaigning, with the saying of the end justifying the means applying. We saw Capriles resort to using wild nationalist zeal, making laughable and incredible promises, and even imitating the model and symbols of his eternal antagonist, Chavez.
We also saw Maduro, who too often fudged around the real health status of the president, referring to it as being “very delicate” from the beginning. That everyone knew his death was inevitable (although it was always announced that Chavez was improving, though he wasn’t).
We saw both sides attacking and offending the other.
But what was most important is that we saw people with the absolute freedom to side with this party or that. They were able to take to the streets wearing the colors they wanted, deciding who they wanted to support. The people were able to express themselves freely, without this putting them into any kind of jeopardy.
We saw people enthusiastically deciding – not obeying. We saw them being responsible for their own election and professing the ideologies they wanted. This made me want to be able to have that same experience, to someday experience a campaign.