Experiencing an Election Campaign

Dariela Aquique

Henrique Capriles and Nicolas Maduro

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.

Dariela Aquique

Dariela Aquique: I remember my years as a high school student, especially that teacher who would interrupt the reading of works and who with surprising histrionics spoke of the real possibilities of knowing more about the truth of a country through its writers than through historical chronicles. From there came my passion for writing and literature. I had excellent teachers (sure, those were not the days of the Fast-track Teachers) and extemporization and the non-mastery of subjects was not tolerated. With humble pretenses, I want to contribute to revealing the truth about my country, where reality always overcomes fiction, but where a novel style shrouds its existence.

5 thoughts on “Experiencing an Election Campaign

  • Mark: since when do you choose candidates? They are set up lik puppets by the parties and the big money behind. Don`t lie to yourself.

  • Democracy is far from ideal. Winston Churchill said, “Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” Still, it beats what Cuba has had for 54 years.

  • Dariela, whatever its shortcomings, a democracy where people are free to support the candidate of their own choosing, is still much better than an authoritarian system like Cuba’s.

  • Be glad you are not. Everybody here in Europe at least , is sick of it. Anyways the candidate, like in th US ( and there even worse a it is just a club of millionaires), mostly are financed by the big companies or money the dedicated to themselves by law. And strangely enough, or rather not, usually in full unanimity. Sometimes leftist parties protest. So Billions ouf our tax money gets wasted to have this bunch of liars telling us the same nonsense every 4 years, sitting afterwards in a place called parlament basically doing nothing but suffocate the poulation by one law after the other, mostly in the interest of the big bosses and their own.. So whats the big deal? Sure, in Cuba, still on the base od socialism, there could be different candidates presented with different programs, even within the PCC. This would certainly be a step towards more socialist democracy and as you know red is no uniform red it goes from all the way down to violet all the way up to orange, and between black and white. So there would be a very big and interesting and challenging scale available. QAnd most probably all more democratic than in our countries. I completely, agree although not being an Canadian ,with Sandra.

  • In Canada we do have elections and campaigns just like you are describing in Venezuela. However, the result is often based on personalities. Politicans often do the exact opposite of what they said after they are elected. The good thing is, in 4 to 5 years we get a chance to judge them and start again. Coruption usually does not set in the first few years, so changing governments every few years keeps that to a minimum.

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