Saturday, February 13, 2010

Note to the Ni-Nis: "Even If You Lose, You Still Win!"

 


I have been trying to concentrate on preparing a post on the issue of electrical power in Venezuela, which is rather complex when all things are considered, but I have found myself distracted by my desire to participate in a fascinating discussion at Martha Colmenares's blog on the subject of electoral abstentionism which I just could not draw myself away from to attend to my own blogging.  I recently posted a translation of an editorial by Venezuelan author Ibsen Martinez which addressed the matter with what I consider to be a sophisticated, articulate, and pragmatic understanding of politics within a representative democracy.  But I am fascinated by the persistent view of many, both within Venezuela and without, who believe that some other option to the vote is the only hope of bringing about a truly democratic result and that therefore they should boycott the electoral process altogether.

To those who may be unfamiliar with the political process in Chavez's Venezuela, the idea of making it more democratic by abstaining from it may appear to be a course of action without any foundation in reality.  This is not so.  There is absolutely no doubt that Chavez has benefited from electoral fraud conducted on an almost unimaginable scale.  The allegations of this first surfaced in the aftermath of the recall referendum of 2004 in Venezuela, which supposedly were dispelled in a review the Carter Center conducted which discounted them.  But there were serious problems with the Carter Center's examination of the allegations, as a subsequent study prepared by two quantitative analysts from Harvard and MIT demonstrated.  And there is much more, as a series of articles one can still view at VCrisis.com make clear, especially with respect to the unbelievably fraudulent electoral register.  And none of this even begins to touch upon the very alarming issue of two-way modem communication between Smartmatic voting machines and polling places.  There is so much more to electoral fraud in Venezuela under Chavez, but the point here is that the abstentionists have both logic and evidence on their side as they justify their withdrawal from the process, given that the proof of fraud is overwhelming and they have no legal means to address it, since the National Electoral Council (CNE) is totally under Chavez's control.

But however reasonable the argument of abstentionists that the electoral process in Venezuela is corrupted may be, the consequences of their willful withdrawal from it cannot be discounted either, because it gave Chavez full and total control of Venezuela's National Assembly.  As Ibsen Martinez argued "the result of such nonsense [i.e. militant abstentionism] has been what Chavez has counted upon for four years with an assembly joyously at the service of all his designs."  And I agree wholeheartedly with Martinez.  Turning over the entire ship of state to Chavez has been one of the most calamitous political miscalculations anywhere and the abstentionists must be held to account for it.

Thus do we return to that forum discussion that has distracted me for these past two days.  Though I am fully in agreement with the analysis so many have offered that a true, democratic result cannot be expected from the Venezuelan electoral system so long as the National Electoral Council serves as nothing more than a rubber stamp for Chavez, the electoral register is fraudulently inflated, two-way communication between electronic voting machines persists without oversight of its code, and the international community will not insist upon a legitimate vote; I am more convinced than ever that abstentionism at this moment will have unbelievably tragic consequences.  At this critical time in Venezuela's recent political history the opposition to Chavez has gained a momentum it has never had before; so much so that the only proper strategy for the Venezuelan resistance to pursue is one of confronting the regime on all fronts, which is precisely what I argued within the forum discussion, where I post under the username "Jacobo."

But the best point made within that entire exchange was one offered by a poster named Nico Alijuna who pleaded for a strengthening of the ever-growing opposition, which is an undeniable political phenomenon at present, with the simple observation that "if you lose, you still win."  I consider this to be the final word on the folly of abstentionism and I urge those who continue to abstain, the so-called Ni-Nis, to learn from their past mistakes and rethink their actions.  The Venezuelan opposition needs their participation.

StJacques

 

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Update, February 14, 10:25 p.m.

I have posted another entry today in which I correct myself for what I now understand to be a not-altogether acceptable use of the term Ni-Ni, which perhaps should not be applied to all electoral abstentionists, as some are more willful in their rejection of the utility of the vote and remain quite politically active nonetheless.  StJ

 

15 comments:

Roy said...

StJacques,

I think you have misunderstood the term "Ni-nis". This refers to individuals who are neither in favor of Chavismo nor in favor of any of the opposition parties. In Spanish "ni" is roughly "neither" and "Ni-ni" means that the that person is neither one nor the other, or supports neither Chavez nor any of the other Opposition parties. Exactly what it is that they do support is not clear. However, they represent a significant block of disaffected voters.

The abstentionism occurred not just among the Ni-nis, but among the opposition as well. In fact, abstention was an official Opposition policy, if you can believe it.

StJacques said...

Roy;

I know the use of "ni...ni" in Spanish quite well, and my use of the term in this post attaches to all who abstain which, by reason alone, means they will neither vote for Chavismo nor against it.  But clearly this definition, which I will confess is the one I learned from Ibsen Martinez and others, is one used by Venezuelans who are very politicized and who therefore divide all voters into two camps, those who will vote for one side or the other and those who will vote for neither, hence "neither ... nor" or ni...ni.  In their use of the term it reflects a disdain for all abstentionists, which I now see is a one-sided viewpoint that is definitely not held to by all Venezuelans.

As I learned earlier today, many anti-Chavistas who reject the vote as a useful means of opposing Chavez also feel themselves insulted when the label NiNi is attached to them, because it lumps them together with former Chavistas who are now alienated and also, in their opinion, labels them as apathetic, which they clearly are not. The very criticism you have voiced was put to me by Martha Colmenares about six hours ago, who insisted that the label NiNis can only be applied to those who were either alienated from the process historically or who were former Chavistas who became alienated.  And I expect that former Chavistas who are now alienated would probably object as well, which means that there are at least two and probably three definitions of the term out there.

I am translating an article from February of last year by Martha Colmenares that was published in Diario de América which explains her justification for rejecting the vote as a useful means of opposing Chavez, in part as an attempt to apologize for giving offense at the use of the term NiNi as applied by the more politicized Venezuelans, but also as a gesture of respect.  And I know that COPEI and AD both held to abstentionism as part of their party platforms recently (though no more), just to give examples of the official policies you cite.  I also have a post up with a translation of an Ibsen Martinez article on abstentionism, though it is not one in which he uses the term NiNi.

StJacques

 

StJacques said...

Roy,

Quick followup here, I should have my post containing the translation of the Martha Colmenares article up sometime today, Sunday.

Jeez! It's after 2:00 a.m.

StJacques

 

Roy said...

StJacques,

I think the term "NiNi" is actually now obsolete. Venezuela has been divided into two distinct camps by Chavez and his rhetoric. Note: Anyone who opposes Chavez here are described by him as:

- Oligarchs
- Squalid ones
- Terrorists
- Anti-revolutionaries
- Little Yankees
- Etc., etc....

In his own words, he has told everyone that there can be be no reconciliation and that they must choose sides, and to be careful in doing so, because he will destroy his opponents.

At this point, there is very little middle ground left, so the "NiNi" concept is no longer valid in the context of Venezuelan politics. In fact, thinking about it, just this moment, I have not heard the term used in conversation on the street for over a couple years now. Virtually everyone defines themselves as Chavista, or Opposition. The divide is so great that debate between the two sides is avoided, simply to maintain civility.

StJacques said...

Roy;

Clearly the use of the term has changed and I've got to believe you are correct that it is no longer as significant as it used to be, given that I only see it very rarely in Venezuelan sources and forum discussions these days, whereas a couple of years ago I could find it used on a not-too-infrequent basis.

In that blog discussion at Martha Colmenares's site I referred to in my post, the person commenting at No. 64, who frankly equated Ni-Ni with abstentionist, introduced it into the discussion again, and I've seen it used previously in forum discussions at Megaresistencia, Frente Patriotico, as well as Martha's site.

Venezuelan politics is a very fractured landscape. Chavez has succeeded in large measure in my opinion because he has prevented the development of a united opposition, which I frankly take to be a sign of the political immaturity of Venezuelans. But they might be learning from their mistakes, given some of the organizing news Daniel Duquenal and the guys at Caracas Chronicles have been posting recently.

StJacques

 

firepigette said...

St Jacques,

I never believed much in elections under Chavez as it was crystal clear to me who he was right from day one.

However to me the most important thing and above all else,and at all times: is Unity.Venezuelans have had problems with this, and getting people to go out and strike massively with passion and persistence, at least it seems to have been so up til now,totally impossible ....therefore....elections appear to be the only way for us.It will be easier to get people to vote than to strike.

Although many in the opposition were convinced that Chavez had stolen past elections,others were uncertain about it and thought he had really won.This resulted in a lack of resistance to the results.If this time because of a greater margin of victory by the opposition and obvious fraud, the Venezuelans who voted against Chavez can be convinced that their votes were stolen, there could be Unity towards resistance.

Even if Chavez steals the elections,and the opposition gets only a minority of congressman, these can become public spokesmen against the abuses that Chavez commits and should he decide to throw them in jail , his democratic "facade" will be even more clearly exposed.


Of the ones who abstain, there is no way to know if it is because of a moral decision or just indifference.


Those who abstain out of moral considerations(those who are not willing to vote under a dictatorship) will not be distinguished from those who do not vote out of indifference- so their statement will be lost.

This is why it is so important to all act together on this.We cannot have some opposition voting and others not.This would be the worse result.

Roy said...

StJacques,

There are a lot of expat Venezuelans who participate in these blogs. The situation on the ground here is extremely fluid. A Venezuelan who left even as early as two years ago may have already lost touch with what is going on in the street here.

In fact, some of the Venezuelan bloggers are now expats and I frequently see comments from them that show they just don't understand the current dynamic. It isn't their fault. To understand, you have to be here to feel it. Daniel and the guys at Caracas Chronicles are on the ground here and have the fingers on the pulse of the people.

firepigette said...

Roy,

While there is much truth to what you say , I do not totally agree.In the case of JC, he is in Michigan.In the case of Quico, he visits Venezuela but lives in Canada.

Miguel and Daniel are both on the ground.

As for those inside of Venezuela, many are greatly affected by circumstances and living in denial;Therefore they are not necessarily reliable sources of information either.I have loads of family in Venezuela and each one feels it differently.

But I am one who would love to hear what you perceive Roy.Tell us more about what you feel and intuit.

StJacques said...

Roy,

If you would like to make a statement at length I will happily let you make a guest post in this blog.

The same goes for you firepigette. Both of you have unique personal qualifications to make an informed comment.

You can contact me here:

stjacquesonline@gmail.com

StJacques

 

Roy said...

StJacques,

I am honored that you ask. I will have to give it some thought. How do I compress it into a reasonable size post?

Firepigette,

I wasn't aware that the Caracas Chronicles guys were not full-time Venezuelans. Thanks for letting me know. Your statement about people inside Venezuela being "in denial" is dead on target. In fact, that is the essence of my personal dilemma living here. Some days, I think with my brain and it tells me "Run, don't walk, to the nearest exit." On other days, I let my hopes get the better of my cynicism and decide that, "Oh, hell! It still isn't so bad." Frankly, the internal conflict has been stressful as hell.

StJacques said...

Roy;

(and firepigette, this applies to you too)

We can do it in parts if you like. I do not want to stop you from saying anything you think is important.

And if you would like me to help you as an editor, we can work that out too.

What I am most interested in is your personal perspective. I do not want you to make it fit anyone else's view but your own. Just write the honest truth pure and simple.

You can take your time if you like too. There's no statute of limitations on the offer. In fact, with the election campaign just about to get underway, having you there on the ground in the future could be a major plus.

Go easy on yourself and think it through. One way or another, it'll be on your own terms.

StJacques

 

firepigette said...

Thanks for asking me St Jacques.
I will think about it and be in contact soon.Tomorrow I leave for Durham and will be there for 2 days.I hope I have the time to read Martha Colmenares ideas while there.I have always been strongly for massive civil disobedience, only it is so hard to motivate the opposition in this direction.

StJacques said...

There's no rush firepigette. It's an offer you can come back to when it's convenient. From what I know of the people you have circulated amongst, your take on things will be welcomed whenever.

Have a safe trip too.

StJacques

 

nico alijuna said...

June 15,2010
Better late, than never ! I do want to thank you for bearing me in mind in connection with "Even if you loose, You still win ...".
I do regret that Mrs. Colmenares felt that my comment using the word " ni.ni " was an offense! Apparently she interpretes "ni-ni" as being those "chavistas" that jumped the wall to the other side (saltaron la talanquera)! Sorry ! That's her opinion !I still think that she is sufficiently intelligent, but she failed accusing me on being an "offender". In my/our modest opinion, "ni-ni" involves these people that, although having their own personal and political tendency, did not vote NEITHER for Chaves, NOR for the opposition !May be because they followed the wrong suggestions of Political Parties, like Accion Democratica (Henry Ramos) or Primero Justicia (JUlio Borges)inducting them to the abstentionism.May be because they doubted that the opposition, or the Chavistas,could win some additional political spaces.May be, and I am sure of, the Ni-Ni's were lazy enough to stand up from their beds, and going to vote, leaving the job to those who believe that the vote can change a Government.
To vote, or not to vote, is not a question of Democracy, or Dictatorship ! IS A QUESTION OF FREE DECISION, and this Free Decision was not given to us by the Political Parties, but by THE VERY SAME GOD HIMSELF !
Clandestino said : To Vote a Dictatorship consolidates a Dictatorship !
Gross mistake ! When I Vote, I do not vote a dictatorship ! I vote on
favour, or against a Dictatorship, even if the Dictator steals my Vote !
Similar, but not the same !
Clandestino also says : This is this way. It has been always this way. It will go on being this way !
Conformism, is not the sollution ! And derrotism, less !
Considering that the Chavistas compel their followers to vote, it must be assumed that the ni-ni's mean a big, but very big mass of eventual voters ! Abstentionism meant about 8.000.000 non voters ! Even if only 6.000.000 ni-ni's vote for the opposition,it will mean a very, very big difference on favour ! And, should the Dictator steal us our Votes, the difference will be so clear, that it may not be hidden !
Should we loose, which is not expected, our presence in the Congress will even be so high, that we will still have strength enough to alter the Governamental deputies on our favour ! Write it !
Thanks , once more, for your support !

The Gomez's Cock, cries High :

SHOULD I WIN, I WILL WIN ! SHOULD I LOOSE, I WILL STILL WIN !

VENEZUELA ... FIRST !!!

EVERYBODY TO VOTE ON SEPTEMBER 26 !!!

Nicoalijuna@gmail.com
http://blogspot.es/entrar/
usuario : nicoalijuna
password : ..........

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