Quico says: I've been feeling particularly ineffective when it comes to blogging November's state and local elections. Aside from the fact that the opposition hasn't decided who it's going to back where, it sure seems like there are a lot of crazy races developing.
For once, distance really is a big handicap in trying to figure out what's happening where. But frankly, I doubt I'd do much better if I was in Caracas. There's just no substitute for micro-local knowledge when it comes to writing about the micro-líos of micro-level politics, and the Caracas press does a horrible job at covering the country outside the valley.
We all know the provinces are chavista strongholds, and the more provincial, the stronger the hold. We've discussed how important it is for the opposition to win key areas such as Guárico in order to prove they can continue broadening their base. Chavismo, on the other hand, feels safe in Guárico, so much so that a cat-fight loud enough to make out across the Atlantic has broken out there. It's the chavista mirror-image of the opposition squabble over the Chacao Municipal nomination: safe seat = lots of wannabes.
The three-way chavista feud pits the state's first lady and the secretary general of a party allied to Chávez against the government's official candidate, Willian Lara. Yup, you read that right...Chávez decided to turf Willian Lara, his former Minister of Information, out to San Juan de los Morros!
Now, um, how to put this delicately? Say you had patiquín-ish tendencies...a bit of a lisp...a fondness for the urban life...a penchant for expensive suits...a punctiliousness about diction. Say you, erm, (well, no use sugar coating it), say you flamed a lot (hey now - I'm not saying he is or he isn't cuz I have no way of knowing.) But say this was your profile. Would you want to be a candidate in Guarico?!
Is this Chávez's idea of a joke? Does he hate the guy? It's a bit like making Barney Frank run for governor of Utah.
I mean, a guy like Lara would have a hard time anywhere - and not just because of his easy-to-wonder-about sexual identity. Venezuelan society in general isn't exactly open-minded about that sort of thing, but there are certain spaces for tolerance in big cities that you don't begin to find in the countryside.
Willian Lara, Governor of Guarico. The mind boggles. And he might just win!