How do we go after Maduro?

Who is this guy?

Let me tell you about this guy…

With Hugo Chávez’s possible demise, Venezuelans could be facing a new Presidential election soon. This provides a unique opportunity for us, because the candidate we would likely face – Vice-President Nicolás Maduro – is largely unknown to most of the population.

Now, I know what many of you are thinking: I thought we were unelectable! Why is this guy writing now about the Vice-President and how to beat him?

Well, we are unelectable … against Chávez. Against Maduro and the others we have a shot, provided we start now.

One of the main tasks in opposing a candidate that is largely unknown is defining him before he gets a chance to do so himself. In that vein, what can we say about Maduro?

a. “Maduro no pisa barrio.” Most Venezuelans know Maduro from his work as Foreign Minister. Whether it’s hobnobbing with Cristina or getting down with the Castros, Maduro has been an effective diplomat, as much as somebody representing the irascible Chávez can be.

Yet this provides an opening. When was the last time Maduro was seen in a barrio, discussing problems with neighbors, talking about the housing crisis, or the crime wave? When you Google image the guy, 90% of the pictures that pop up show him in a suit and tie, which is rare for a chavista politician. We need to convince voters he is detached from current Venezuelans’ pressing issues.

b. “Maduro regala nuestros reales.” If there is one thing about Venezuela’s foreign policy that voters do not like, it’s the fact that Chávez uses oil wealth to gain support abroad. Furthermore, these ties usually come with corrupt strings attached.

It would be a slam-dunk to link Maduro to shady dealings with Cuba, China, or Iran. Imagine, for example, an opposition politician holding a press conference in front of a bankrupt Iran-Venezuela joint venture.

c. “Maduro gobierna con malandros.” Hugo Chávez is far more popular than his minions. They are generally seen as corrupt, inefficient, lazy, and all of the above. “Es que no le dicen a Chávez,” has become code for “the President is not the problem, it’s his ministers.” While Maduro personally has not been seen as one of the inefficient and corrupt ones, it would be beneficial to tie him to that group. “Dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres.”

d. “Maduro betrayed Chávez.” With all the secrecy surrounding the President’s health, it may be possible to portray the governing clique as being focused on holding on to power instead of leveling with the people or governing. Maduro could potentially be portrayed as the candidate of the resulting power play, one that will undoubdtedly leave many chavistas frustrated.

We could make the case that the lack of transparency and internal squabbles are a sign of Maduro’s thirst for power, one that el comandante presidente would have frowned upon. Divide y vencerás and all that.

These are just thoughts to get the conversation started, but one thing is clear: it’s never too early to go negative on the guy we are most likely going to face.

49 thoughts on “How do we go after Maduro?

  1. I see your points, but what’s to say that the Chavista machinery that got Chavez elected won’t do the same job this time around? There would be a lot at stake, and as we proved in the last election, there’s no talking point good enough against la maquina.

    Maybe I’m just still feeling hopeless for Venezuela’s future.

  2. “Maduro has been an effective diplomat”; is there actually any whiff of this having been the case? Admittedly, his nose look does look clean but there was at least one episode – if memory serves – when he complained on deplaning in Sao Paulo about not being met by Brazilian governement officials, ostensibly unaware that the capital is Brasilia.

    • It’s no use putting him down for a minor mishap. Given their purposes, Maduro has fulfilled the government’s expectations very effectively. Have you visited any Venezuelan embassy or consulate lately?

      • Not knowing the capital of the biggest LatAm nation and the one with which Venezuela shares the longest border and has myriad commercial commitments AND puuled the regimes gasoline chestnuts out of the fire some time back is hardly minor, especially for the Foreign Minister!

  3. He was an Union leader for a decade before first getting elected to congress in 1998. Most chavistas know him very well.

  4. Maduro has said chavez is well and getting better. Is there a way to tie him now to the word liar so that it gets triggered with full strength when chavez dies?

      • well, point D was more about Maduro betraying chavez, not the people. Though point D covers the reasons for lying, it doesn’t quite emphasize what I think is really important: Maduro says chavez is well => so chavez is well => chavez is dead => Maduro lied to me => Maduro promises to continue chavez’s work => I can’t believe Maduro because he’s a liar.

    • This is a note I would strike very hard: we know that in an eventual presidential election in March the chavernment would use chabe’s image in every single ad and poster and try to encourage chavistas to “honor chabe’s dream, come out and vote for his political project to remain in office”; the best message I can think of for the opposition would be to point them out and say “are you really gonna vote for the people who told you until 2 days ago that chabe was strong and healthy?”

      jJst like chavismo is betting on the opposition to be so heartbroken from the October election that they’ll be completely unmotivated to go out and vote in December, the biggest chance for the opposition to win would be to play on the chavista grief.

    • We could build him up like we respect him as an adversary, like he’s our kind of Chavista, because we have heard how much of a stand-up, honest guy he is. Just look at the comandante’s situation, thanks to Maduro we can be positive that Chavez will stay with us. He is an invaluable source of true information.

      The trick here is that the lies they tell aren’t meant to be believed, just followed and used against us. If we act as extreme as they expect us to but the other way around, the chavistas might start believing Maduro too… “maybe we were being too cynical… look! even the opposition is thanking him!”

  5. I have an idea! How about we get a nice photo of Maduro and Assad in swimming shorts, standing on a beach in Cuba/Venezuela, holding in their hands some crushed~iced margaritas with red swizzle sticks poking out and juxtapose a photo of a background shot of a Russen Mig swooping in on a bombing run over Aleppo? hmmm? Waddya think? Think I’m kidding?

    “Assad considering political asylum in Latin America if toppled: report”

    (El Arabiya News)

    http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/12/05/253495.html

    • I don’t know where ‘Russen’ is. It’s a Russian Mig!

      Also, a caption could be written under the photo of the Russian Mig, “Powered by PDVSA fuel, the wealth of Venezuela being put to good use.”

  6. Let’s begin at the beginning. First of all, we can only guess about the condition of Hugo Chavez. Ok, ok, barring a miracle, and taking into account the few things they have not been able to hide, the likely adjectives are grievous and desperate. However, let’s see how it turns out, now that we have the leisure.

    Let’s just ensure that the doubts and uncertainty caused in chavista voters by the obvious lie that Chavez could ever govern and that he was cured (and which any reasonable person would entertain) remain and grow. Let’s begin by letting some reason enter this obscure matter. You (dumbos!) elected a sick man and will be governed (or rather suckered) by the apparatchiks surrounding and controlling him.

    To sum it up: Maduro is a chavista apparatchik and has been little else but.

    If Chavez’s condition goes as expected, he will be the most visible and greatest of those lying apparatchiks that covered it up and hope to benefit.

    • That’s fine, if that happens nothing changes. But it’s looking less likely as days go by.

  7. e. “Maduro es corrupto.” He bought a whole building (edificio) in Caracas with money siphoned off from “nomina”-related extras from the Foreign Ministry. It is owned by his son. Related to this, a lack of funds for benefits and bonus payments caused the entire staff of Casa Amarilla to walk off the job for more than four hours, about a year ago. The protested in front of the Casa Amarilla and didn’t even move back in when the Guardia Nacional Bolivariana showed up to put down the walk-out. They were joined in their protest by some (not all) of the Foreign Ministry personnel working in the MRE tower, half a block away.

    The foreign ministry, due to the way hard currency funds are sent to cover salaries and expenses of embassies abroad, has lax oversight and multiple opportunities for graft. It is an open secret in MPPRE who steals the most: Maduro, Porras and Flores.

  8. Have anybody thought about Chavez coming back strong and healthy, as a Phoenix, and demising all the rumors, once again?
    I don’t doubt the guy is ill, but his cancer could be one of those with which you can live long, and probably all these mess around him has to do more with a campaign that exhausted him well beyond expectations.
    Another important point is that, as someone already mentioned, the clockwork orange (or red) could have a sort of argument around the process, with Chavez a its new legendary hero, laying on this new skateboard ramp behind the Pantheon, saying Good Bye “Por Ahora y para siempre”. The sort of literary booby trap Latinamericans are so good at (just remember Allende’s “las grandes alamedas por donde pasa el hombre libre” before shooting himself and live on radio. I think Chavistas would have a good case to stay in power.
    In any case good luck with this one Juan…

  9. Opiniones es lo que nos sobra.
    A ver: datos. Realidad. Es lo menos que se le puede exigir a un blog que hace alarde de analizarla.
    Así que, antes de volver a calarme otra campaña de ‘heart-felt’ comentarios, y como ya estamos cerca de las Navidades, aquí va mi lista para el jesusito de Caracas Chronicles:
    1. Desde 1989, la serie completa de las elecciones a gobernadores, con especial énfasis en la abstención. Y ojo: Estado por Estado.
    2. Desde la llamada mega-elección de 2000, perfil de incumbents y oppos (¿existían, entonces?)
    3. Desde las municipales de 2005… ¿qué pasa con las municipales? ¡Ah! que como buenos esclavos, estamos esperando a que el CNE convoque las correspondientes… después de las de gobernadores… Y sobre todo, nadie dice ni mú en la oposición, a ver qué nos conviene, llegado el caso,,.

    Y podría seguir, por aburridas líneas y más líneas.

    ¿Pero para qué proponer nada? Si en Venezuela, país fallido donde los haya (y desde mucho antes de Chávez, por cierto), desde sus pobres elites sabelotodo y sus pobres pedigüeños que se conforman con una lismona, todo el pescado está ya vendido.

    Estas Navidades serán como todas las otras, ni más ni menos: los unos (¿los hunos?) en Miami o Tokyo o Nueva York o París, y los otros (¿los Morlocks?) meditando cómo sacarle el jugo a su condición (eterna condición) de ciudadanos de mermado derecho en la corte de los milagros venezolanas: Umh, qué me conviene más: ¿apuntarme a una Misión Vivienda, o apostar por que mi hijo, en la cárcel, se convierta en el custodio de un pran?

    Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo

  10. In other words, what are the possible lies that we can come up with to manipulate the Venezuelan people into voting for us? Priceless…

    • I doubt it. I simply don’t see how an ailing Chavez can get away with naming a successor in the current state of affairs.

      • We must not forget that Chavismo is a military movement. Maduro is not a military man, he belongs to the civil branch of Chavismo. And, within the civil branch, there are extremists and moderates. IMHO if something happens to Chávez, another military man will take his place

    • I think Maduro’s intellect is so, well, constant. He comes across to me as a someone who’s basically lazy. (Which in the world of chavismo is not unusual.) Maduro’s compliance to the ‘boss’ and his pudgy heft are the only attributes that work for him. I doubt he’ll last long after Waldo leaves for redder and burning pastures.

  11. Why Maduro? Why not another Chavez? That would have the best name recognition. In fact, if Chavez deteriorated fast, Adan could be President on Jan 10th. and preside over his candidacy, after all, the President of the National Assembly is elected on Jan. 5th. and PSUV in Barinas can appoint alternates and principals can resign…Covoluted? Sure, so is Chavismo.

  12. How do we go after Maduro? We don’t. This fellow will not make the ticket. On Nov 27, the day of the parade when the two flying machines went to the ground, Maduro was served a major insult which he accepted with grace. The star of the event was the minister of defense while Maduro was pushed in a corner of the podium. Diosdado Cabello will push him out in next to no time when the time comes. The dude is a jelly fish. Wouldn’t bet a locha on him.

  13. The most notable entry in Maduro’s CV is that he has always been, and still is, only His Master’s Voice.

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