Quico says: The rural municipality of Catatumbo in southern Zulia State just had a by-election for mayor. The result? The Un Nuevo Tiempo (opposition) candidate got 7,699 votes against the government candidate's 4,284. Contrast that with last December's election, when Zulia Governor Manuel Rosales got 6,673 votes in Catatumbo vs. Chávez's 6,071.
But it's Teodoro Petkoff who latched on to the really telling detail about this story: a few weeks ago, in a progress report on recruitment for PSUV - Chávez's new party - Vice-president Jorge Rodríguez announced that 11,000 people in Catatumbo had applied to join the party: that's two and a half times the number that actually voted for the chavista candidate. ¿Qué tal?
Either the PSUV recruitment figures are puffed up or Catatumbenses realize that, in the current climate, it's a practical necessity to have a PSUV card in your pocket, so they signed up even though they don't really support the party.