A Different Type of Elections


Venezuelan legislative elections campaign.

It’s something that has opened my eyes with astonishment, like someone seeing a whale for the first time, because I think I’ll break down and cry the day I ever see one.  However, the uproar of an election campaign here in Venezuela is enough to make you cry from not being able to get a good night’s sleep.

Being from Cuba, I’m accustomed to finding out about the candidates to the National Assembly by reading small posters with writing that’s barely legible, given the poor quality of the ink or the printing (not to mention the candidates’ photos, which appear like small smudges; and these can be worse if —like a large number of Cubans— they have dark skin).

Normally these little profiles can be found posted at the entrances to markets or bakeries, and occasionally in a few other places (if there’s some computer club facility or cinema in the area). Other than that, only general information on the election process and encouraging voting is provided on TV.  But that’s it.

Here in Venezuela, though, I’ve seen fabulous displays of color and music ever since the kickoff of this small but intense race between the governing party and those opposing it.

Since the campaign began, gatherings have been held in the squares of each city or district with organizers urging the victory of their respective political parties through music, fireworks, motorcades, marches and posters in every available spot across the whole country.

This is how I’m awoken each morning, with racket just outside my window.  With sleep still in my eyes, I get up startled wondering what must have happened.

Venezuela elects a new parliament on Sept. 26

But it turns out to be nothing, only a truck with huge loudspeakers calling on the public to turn out to vote on September 26.  Similarly, I can be sitting in a park and all of a sudden there comes this deafening sound of a half-dozen drums.  Did an airplane crash, I first think?  No, it’s only some protest; because this is the best moment to demand improvements of whatever type.

Added to the usual hustle and bustle of Caracas are all of those people who enthusiastically want to remind others that they should show up at the polls for this Sunday’s elections.

Over these past few days I traveled outside the city, and there too I could see the flurry of posters encouraging people to vote for one or another candidate.  In some places I could count more than 50 signs within a couple blocks.

I wonder how much money the opposing sides will spend on this entire process; it must be a good bit.  Could it have been better used for more practical causes?  But I’m not political, and journalism doesn’t interest me either, so I don’t believe that I should get involved in what either side does to achieve their aims. The only thing I want is for them to let me get a little peace, quiet and a good night’s rest.

[On Sunday, September 26, Venezuelan citizens will vote in the national elections for parliamentary deputies.  In the last legislative elections, five years ago, the opposition parties dropped out of the race and the government headed by Hugo Chavez won all seats.]


Caridad: If I had the chance to choose what my next life would be like, I’d like to be water. If I had the chance to eliminate a worst aspect of the world I would erase fear. Of all the human feelings I most like I prefer friendship. I was born in the year of the first Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, the day that Gay Pride is celebrated around the world. I no longer live on the east side of Havana; I’m trying to make a go of it in Caracas, and I continue to defend my right to do what I want and not what society expects of me.