Nestor Rojas Mavares (dpa)
HAVANA TIMES — In what will be a “lightning fast” 10-day political struggle, the campaign for the April 14th Venezuelan elections began with lots of emotion but few concrete plans for addressing the country’s problems.
The proselytizing began on Tuesday and will end on Thursday, April 11, in the shortest campaign in Venezuelan history. This is why the candidates — interim President Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Henrique Capriles — have turned to moving the electorate’s emotions, according to analysts.
The first news images showed massive rallies, banners and music in the midst of mourning over the death of President Hugo Chavez, who died on March 5.
Capriles, while visiting the east of the country, proposed himself as “the solution” to the nation’s problems of inflation, shortages and violent crime, while Maduro made more headlines with his confession that Chavez appeared to him as a “tiny bird” that whistled and chirped to him.
“I stared at him and I whistled back. ‘If you whistle, I’ll whistle’ – so I whistled. The bird gave me a strange look, you know? It whistled a little while, walked around me, and then flew away – but I felt his spirit (Chavez’s),” he said. “I felt like he was blessing me and saying: ‘Today begins the battle, head forward on to victory, you have my blessings.’ At that moment, I felt him in my soul,” he added.
Maduro made the disclosure in the state of Barinas, the region where Chavez was born and where he chose to kick off his campaign, surrounded by the late president’s siblings and other relatives.
Political analyst Luis Vicente Leon wrote in his Twitter account that “the supposed appearance of Chavez as a bird is to reinforce the mysticism of his campaign.”
“Maduro commented about the ‘appearance’ of Chavez transmuted into a ‘little bird’ to reinforce the mysticism supporting his campaign, but when haven’t the successful campaigns of the last 15 years not been kitschy and primitive? I think I missed something,” he said.
The director of the Datanalisis polling firm said what matters is not what “the opposition thinks of that ‘little bird,’ but how it’s received by the majority, who believe in destiny, read horoscopes and pray to ‘Negro Felipe’ (a popularly revered image).”
Vice President Jorge Arreaza (Chavez’s son-in-law) had previously indicated the direction that the government in power would take in its campaign. He said the late president “ordered” them to turn the pain of his death into electoral “action.”
“We’re in pain, but the orders, instructions, guidance and spirit that Commander Chavez left us and gave us was to turn that pain into action, into transforming action,” he said.
Arreaza added that the first step in turning pain into a “transforming action” was to ensure Madura’s victory in the April 14 elections.
Political analyst Edgar Gutierrez said that in such a short a campaign, the candidates will focus on emotions, therefore one shouldn’t expect to see debates around complex issues.
“In short campaigns, things that generate emotions are what move voters. There isn’t any debating here, only attacks and counterattacks,” he said.
Capriles met with former supporters of Chavez in Caracas today, before visiting the Barinas region. He told his new followers that Maduro has “no idea where he’s going or how to govern.”
“He has [been heading] the government for 100 days and they’re destroying the country, they’re destroying the 14 years [of Chavez’s government] because the truth is that the government’s candidate doesn’t know where he’s going. He has no idea of how to even fix a neighborhood water problem,” he said.
Capriles said Maduro had spent his six years as foreign minister “traveling and giving away the resources” of Venezuela.
“They put him in charge and he began to improvise, but improvisation is the direct path to the country’s destruction. Leadership isn’t inherited, it’s built day by day,” the opposition candidate concluded.