Taking stock before the last 10 days of Venezuelan campaign

Today we enter the last real week of campaign because next Friday will be the start of the "closing statement" week and campaign flavor is always different then. Thus it is a good excuse to write on how things are going on.

One of the best photo journalism opus in Venezuela's recent memory

The cover picture is the quarter page picture of El Nacional front page today. It is not only rich in symbols as to the state of the campaign, and the country, but it is also personal because on my road to San Felipe I almost always drive in front of El Palito refinery of PDVSA and every single time I am offended by the "rojo rojita" gas tank since 2006. Now, this fabulous composition taken from the slums above the road shows PDVSA in flame, AGAIN; the poltical abuse inside state companies; the gigantic ubiquitous campaign poster of Chavez as he looked several years ago; and the lame "para vivir viviendo" of Mision Vivienda. Too bad the details on the left cannot show the gigantic pot hole that I barely avoided last time I drove by.

This picture is no accident, it has to be a divine writing on the wall for Chavez campaign.  This one has been plagued by mistakes, bad reading of the country's mood, natural disaster made worse by administrative disaster, and real disasters that can be blamed ONLY on the regime. Of course that does not mean Chavez has already lost the election, his pull is of a religious nature and certainly in a normal country he would have been fired by now. But that does not stop people who aspire to journalistic credibility to still publish rather inane articles that, even though possessing valid points, cannot resist the usage of old cliches and even write idiocies like " Capriles [...] has the light-skinned features characteristic of the old ruling class". Really, Reuters.....

But I am not upset by pieces like those of Reuters because they do reflect the relative success of Chavez campaign in becoming the conservative campaign, the one afraid of change, the one willing to keep living in shit and cliches rather than try something else. Even journalists buy into that, amazingly....

Still, it is clear that Chavez campaign is sinking and now his hope is to stop the hemorrhage of votes, stop the abstention growth within his camp. The nasty attacks launched in the past two weeks are a reflection on this, except that they forgot the maxim for a successful negative campaigning: define yourself first, if possible with at least one positive element, before you enter negativity otherwise you risk a major backfiring when people realize you are so negative because there is nothing good in you. And so far it seems to be backfiring.  What Chavez campaign is lacking is any positive offering for the future. There is not a plan except a vaguely worded "save the planet" for a guy that cannot save his own country. More of the same worked in 2006 but in 2012 it seems kinda o' cranky...

On the other side, even if promising stuff that I personally think Capriles will never be able to fulfill, we have an organized, methodical, always on cue campaign. Capriles has been remarkable for his steady style, in speech as well as in action. And it pays. Now at least one pollster gives him ahead, and probably two are about to join Consultores 21 in the next few days.

Also, nothing is left to chance, as far as this is possible today. The monitoring of voting day ballot counting seems to be getting into place barring the now exposed vote fraud of chavismo in the past. International relations are taken into account and obtained a powerfully symbolic reception of Capriles by Santos of Colombia, giving him at least 51% of the Colombian vote in Venezuela. The smell of victory is in the Capriles camp, although it bears repeating that 14 years of degradation of civilian values in Venezuela surely will charge a toll.

Thus we enter the last week of campaign with a chavista camp in the defensive in spite of all the billions in vote buying scheme while the resource scarce opposition is actually on the offensive, hoping to reach a semi miraculous 1 million vote advantage over Chavez.