The Fat Against The Fast

Today at 6pm Venezuela shuts down till the results of the presidential elections. This means that there will be no opened businesses, except a few stores in some very big & famous malls. Transportation of merchandise will be banned from Venezuelan highways from today till Monday. Selling of alcohol is banned, but that doesn´t keep people from drinking to be able to accept the news.

There are two main fronts supporting two main candidates. The first front is the great patriotic pole supporting Hugo Chavez Frias for this 3rd presidential period. The second front is the democratic unity round table (MUD) supporting Capriles Radonski. The choice was made to support Radonski earlier in February this year in separate elections that were organized by the MUD to make sure that all the votes will unite behind one opposition leader.

On the scene you might find other candidates such as Maria Bolivar, Orlando Chirinos, Reina Sequera, & Luis Reyes. Many Venezuelans think that these people were paid to go for presidency as a maneuver from Chavez to push some votes away from Radonski. However after realising that Chirinos might be a threat to his own voters apparently in very mysterious circumstances he was convinced to step aside & give all his votes to Chavez.

In February the participation in the MUD elections was considered high. But I personally thought that even with this participation it would be very hard to push Chavez away. Now I changed my opinion.

The speed with which Radonski was moving, was extremely astonishing. He was giving speeches in several cities everyday. Crossing a minimum of two states in his early days of the campaign, & in the last days he was crossing three.The old fat grumpy Chavez couldn´t match the performance of his rival. His swiftness made states & big cities compete in the number of people coming out welcome him. For example yesterday, people of Barquisimeto state Lara wanted to compete in numbers with Maracaibo state Zulia.

Chavez is known to offer money to people to participate in his parades. In addition to the government employees that might be risking their job if they don´t go to support him. We only saw big numbers in Chavez campaign in his home state Barinas, states Portuguesa, Falcon, & Cogedes.

I don´t know about other people, but for me it is completely clear that Radonski has all the votes that can make him win. The question is will Chavez surrender? The other question is, what might happen in cases of obvious fraud? In the past days people would get random previously recorded messages from Chavez asking people to vote for him & to be careful because there will be an electoral fraud. Does this mean that the CNE (National Elections Council) that was known to be a Chavez supporter is not allied to him anymore? So many questions are being asked & the answer is on Sunday. What we know is, it will be very hard for oppositions to accept defeat if Randonski looses with an electoral fraud.

The Venezuelan tradition is to drink to death the day of the elections hoping that the effect of alcohol would help their tolerance to the loss. Lets see how tolerant can the opposition be.


The Pharao Versus The Cacique Part I

After living almost 8 months in Venezuela I decided to start writing about what I learnt, in order to share my experience with my friends, countrymen, & even Venezuelans that can speak English.

In this part, I will discuss what the Venezuelans don't know...

I- A brief presentation of Egyptian history, society chemistry, & public opinion:

Egypt, is a state that lived a closed economy & a regime that was a hybrid between a war & a socialist economy not very far from the Hugo Chavez model, from the early 1950s till the late 1960s. 

We came out of this era to a super neo-capitalist regime that ruled Egypt from the early 70s till the 2011 revolution. This recent 41 years regime succeeded in exploding the country in population, destroyed the demography & population destribution, increased desertification of fertile lands, divided the society in one small rich group that directly or indirectly manipulates political power, a relatively small middle class, & a huge lower class, what you can call a typical African misery.

Before the "Glorious?" 25th of January 2011 revolution most Egyptians used to talk positively about the time of the king, about the strength of the economy, lower prices, lack of inflation, etc...
They were cursing the Mubarak era, since it only brought a weaker currency, inflation, made the rich richer, & the poor poorer. As a result the main demands of the revolution of 2011 were purely socialist. They directly asked for food, freedom, & social justice. Be sure that middle class triggered this revolution. You might think I am contradicting myself since I previously mentioned that the middle class was small. Beware, it is small in percentage, but a small 15% can be millions of people in a country with more than 85 million of inhabitants. What I am sure of is that this revolution didn't ask for a new simulation of the Nasser era. Egyptians has finally realised that what they had in the 50s & the 60s wasn't socialism, it was something called Nasserism & it is bad.

Egypt lived unrest with Israel from 1948 till 1973. A status quo that made all the generations that were born before 1948 hate Israel because simply it was a country that didn't exist when they were born. People that were born between 1948 & 1973 logically hated Israel because of losing a parent, an uncle, a friend, a neighbour, or a relative in battle or resistance operations. Some others that lived by the Suez Canal, had to move to the cities of the interior because of the regular air raids on their houses, I have always understood the aggressive reaction against Israel from people who lived in the Canal. However these age groups refused to offer peace to their children. They have always raised the new generations feeding them with vengeance & convincing them that Israel & the Jews are the ultimate enemy & the main threat to our existence. This feeling of hatred to Israel & the United States (As their main sponsor) was very well fed by all means of mass communication, starting from press to national radio & television. Our government like any other government, in order to remain in power, had to convince us that they are the only protection from the ultimate external threat "Israel". What we didn't know, (Or we actually knew but we didn't react) is that they were doing all kinds of business deals with them, selling them natural gas, signing industrial agreements, trade agreements, & all kinds of stuff that would fill their Switzerland bank accounts with nice & green Benjamin Franklins.

II- The random Egyptian opinion about Chavez:

1- The poor low class Egyptian opinion:

This kind of Egyptian doesn't know where is Venezuela. As an Egyptian he will never tell you that he doesn't know. He will probably tell you that it is a country in Europe somewhere very close to Canada. Or he might suggest that it is an island in Europe right next to Australia. So obviously he doesn't know. But the next thing he would tell you "It is a country of the president Hugo Chavez". This is the only thing he does know about this country.

If you ask them, "So? You know Hugo Chavez?" the answer is "OF COURSE!!! A GOOD MAN!!!" & if you ask him why do you think he is a good man, you will have this model answer "Remember the time of the Aqsa rise of the Palestinians against the Israelis? He is the only president in the world that immediately kicked out the Israeli ambassador." For him Chavez is the best man because he feels that he did the reaction that the Egyptian or any Arab president should have had. You can have this conversation in Egypt with taxi drivers, coffee shop waiters, car mechanics,& you will always have these model answers.

 2- The educated, middle class, eloquent Egyptian:

This kind of Egyptian is divided into three types, an Islamist/Neo-capitalists (Believer in political Islamism & Islamist economy which is a disguised neo-capitalist economy, & this is the official right wing of Egypt), a liberal, or a leftist.

In case of an Islamist, his opinion won't differ a lot from the lower class Egyptian. Religiously he hates Israel, & his cause is ending the rule of Jews in the world. Thus he will have a very positive opinion about Chavez as the man who is defying the empire, & for sure for his level of education he will express his point of view more eloquently than the lower class Egyptian.

The liberal & most likely Neo-capitalist. Is the kind of Egyptian that believes in business. He has probably read about Chavez economic policies, & might have an idea about the currency exchange control & how the Venezuelan economy is completely closed, so most probably he would have a very negative opinion about the Chavez economic policies, & he might not consider the reaction against Israel heroic, he would rather consider it a show off, since Venezuela is thousands of miles away from Israel for them to have a real conflict.

The leftist Egyptian might be the most interested. He would be curious about the situation of Chavez being a military. From their own experience, most leftist Egyptians don't prefer having a military general in power. However the situation would still be very interesting since Chavez doesn't only represent the left in Venezuela, but the roomers that he finances the leftist campaigns in all the countries of Latin America might reach so many people of the left wing anywhere in the world. So many leftists around the world think that Venezuelan finance was the reason for Lula Da Silva taking power in Brazil, Cristina Kirchner in Argentina, Ollanta Humala in Peru, Jose Mujica in Uruguay, etc.

 3- The opinion of a rich Egyptian:

Rich Egyptians don't think to have an opinion. They always hire people to think for them. The only thing they know about Venezuela is the nice beaches, beautiful women, & the biggest production of rum in the world.

To be continued...