16-D Races to Watch: Carabobo

The central state of Carabobo, known as our historical and industrial heartland, presents  an interesting case for the 16-D election.

The comandante presidente won there this year but Chavismo obtained the State governorship only once: in 2004, with former National Guard General Luis Felipe Acosta Carles and a little help of high abstention provided by opposition voters.

Since direct regional elections begun in 1989, two men named Salas have ruled Carabobo for 19 years combined: Henrique Salas Römer, for six, and his son, incumbent governor Henrique Salas Feo, for thirteen. Now the son is looking to stay in power for four more, but he’s vulnerable. Even if abstention is lower than eight years ago, he could still lose.

“El Pollo” (Salas Feo’s nickname) was close to be primaried last year, with a strong rival (Enzo Scarano, Mayor of San Diego Municipality) having a serious chance to defeat him then.

But the MUD decided that all incumbent governors would avoid a primary unless a clear majority of its members opposed this. Instead of running solo and risking unity, Scarano backed down and settled for his own re-election.

But not everyone accepted this outcome. South Valencia Councilman Noé Mujica insisted in challenging Salas Feo to a primary and after having his request denied by the MUD, he’s now running alone as an independent.

Supported only by some small parties, Mujica doesn’t have a real chance of winning, but if the result is very close, he could end up in history as the Ralph Nader of Carabobo.He insists that he is the true candidate of change.

Rafael Lacava, Mayor of Puerto Cabello (PSUV)

Chavismo thinks they have a big chance of winning Carabobo again, thanks to possible “Salas fatigue” of some voters. But some consider that having the wrong candidate could ruin those chances.

After testing the waters with outsider Nicolas Maduro (now the VP), all pointed to Puerto Cabello Mayor Rafael Lacava, who had serious support from the base.

But in the PSUV, the participatory democracy is really a “dedo-cracy” of one single protagonist: Hugo Chávez. He selected former Parliament’s Speaker and PSUV apparatchik Francisco Ameliach.

Even if he’s a local, not all Carabobo chavistas were thrilled at the comandante presidente’s decision. However, jefe es jefe and Lacava was the first one to toe the official line. (It helps that Lacava is a longtime ally of Ameliach’s)

The first opinion poll gives Ameliach a small lead over Salas Feo, but the race is still very competitive. “El Pollo” must maximize his support while praying that Chavistas stay home. Ameliach must do the same, but the other way around. Carabobo, the place where Venezuela won its independence not once but twice, really matters to both sides.

7 thoughts on “16-D Races to Watch: Carabobo

  1. Come on now Ralph Nader did not cost Gore the election in Florida ( how about that last one their, 50% Cubans, 85 %, Venezuelans, 92% Brazilians, 82% Peruvians and 80% Colombians voted for Obama in Florida) it was the Republican Supreme Ct. that stop the counting, they gave Bush the election.

    As for the oppo’s they got a very small chance in Carabobo.

    Rojo Rojito

    Cort

  2. well Cort this is the first time I agree with you. The only reason Salas won the last election here in Carabobo was that the Chavistas were divided between Acosta Carles and Mario Silva. Had they been one, Salas would have lost the election. Every town in Carabobo has a PSUV mayor except Naguanagua and San Diego. It is an uphill battle for the opposition.

  3. Thirteen of the last seventeen years, and nineteen of the last twenty-three years, is far too long for someone, or for a family clique, to be in power. I don’t live in Carabobo and really don’t have a way to gauge the achievements, or lack thereof, of the Salas Feo administration – but were I to vote in Carabobo, this one would get a big nice blank vote from me. Opposition politicians shouldn’t be exempt from the same criticism we level at Chávez. So I’d consider this one lost – probably rightly so.

  4. I for one I don’t see any problem casting my vote to Salas Feo, one more time. Carabobo Improved a lot during Salas administration, father and son has done very well compared to others states in Venezuela. not only that, they showed others governors how to run things out to help the people, to translate the experience in Carabobo in another places in Venezuela, rather than using the office account for personal use.

    Carabobo was fine until chavismo came to power and took over the office, a feat that we must thanks to our friends in AD&Copei&UNT.

    More to the point, El Pollo regained the office in 2008, proving that people really recognized his job, so the question why not him again? I mean there is no legal barrier that prevents Salas Feo from running again.

    I don’t know if it’s was really necessary to post something like this article, I mean weeks before the upcoming election.

    If Ameliach manage to win the election, it will be so because Chavez won the last election. Nothing more, nothing less. Because unfortunately the people that wants more from Chavismo program, free house, free stuff, free everything, is the majority, and Ameliach is playing that card so nicely as well as his master did.

    Besides Carabobo was probably the most conservative state in Venezuela, so not even AD stood a chance to win in any municipality, except for a few, and when they did, people were so ashamed of trusting in AD one more time. Probably that is the reason that AD&Copei have no leverage over PV in Carabobo.

    But that changed because Carababo was subjected to massive invasions when General Eructo was the governor, so Chavismo could be majority in many municipalities in Carabobo, then CNE and SAIME make sure that every one of them were properly registered and ready to vote for PSUV, just to change the correlation of power in Carabobo.

    • I just want to stress, why the need to publish something like this, when we are weeks from the upcoming election. The candidate was chosen by consensus, and we all stick to the rules of the MUD. So I don’t really see the point of publishing this article.

      • There’s a difference between talking about an issue and questioning an issue. If both are the same to you then it’s clear why you don’t see the point of this article.

        Salas could lose; therefore, a discussion on this needed to be opened.

        • Yeah but why now? why not before the matter was even decided, right now we have ballots with the face of Salas… so what gives?

          If the person in question, Scarano or Mujica didn’t call for prymary, is a question to their leadership rather than blaming Salas for calling off the primary in Carabobo, they didn’t push enough, though what they wanted is some big player backing them so they can receive the needed funds to run as candidate.

          I don’t see the point of this article other than calling for abstention in Carabobo. Salas could lose, but not because people is somewhat tired of him… Chavez’s reelection just proved to us, that people end up electing someone many times as long that someone gives the people what they want.

          I’ve already explained why Salas could lose, and a different version or a different interpretation, it’s just denying the idea that Carabobo is a different landscape than 4 or 8 years before, where Salas winning the state could’ve been a piece of cake. The chavistas modified that landscape over the years.

          Right now, I still have my hopes up though. That’s why I’m voting for him.

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