The regional elections renewing the mandates of the Governors of all 23 states resulted in a landslide for the PSUV, who took 20 of them (the result in Bolívar has been contested by the opposition candidate, Andrés Velásquez), while the opposition took Miranda ( Henrique Capriles), Lara (Henri Falcón) and Amazonas (Liborio Guarulla). The loss of Zulia, the important oil-producing state bordering Colombia has been very painful, but retaining Miranda was extremely important, and Capriles claimed, without saying it in so many words, the right to again become the unitary candidate of the democratic opposition in the next presidential election, which is likely to place sometime next year against Nicolás Maduro, currently Executive Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, and designated by Chávez to be his political successor. For the results click on www.cne.gov.ve/divulgacion_regional_2012/ and select the state on the left side of the webpage. Abstention was 46.06%, about the same as in previous regional elections, but scandalously high given what was at stake.
The statements by the PSUV Governors-elect have varied widely, and seem to suggest two fundamentally opposed approaches. On the one hand, the new Governors of Anzoátegui (Isturiz), Trujillo (Rangel Silva, yes, the former Minister of Defense), Guarico (Rodríguez Chacín, yes, the former Minister of the Interior), and Carabobo (Ameliach) have vowed to “deepen the revolution”. On the other, those of Táchira (Vielma Mora), Arias Cárdenas (Zulia) and Mata (Margarita) have taken a very conciliatory approach, Vielma Mora even announcing that he intended to cooperate closely with the private sector. It must be said that these three states had been opposition strongholds, but were these statements previously agreed with Maduro, or even Chávez, or are they the result of a new found independence of some of the new Governors? The positions taken certainly reflect their previous reputations, but one is surprised that they would show their colors so clearly so early in the game.Ramón Guillermo Aveledo, the Executive Director of the MUD, and Antonio Ledezma, the Metropolitan Mayor of Caracas robbed of his constitutional attributions by Chávez, made fairly strong statements vowing not to give up but work hard to recover the ground lost. There probably will be a vote recount in Bolívar, the large state covering about one third of the national territory and rich with iron ore, bauxite, gold and hydro power.
(Enrique ter Horst es un abogado venezolano quien sirvió en El Salvador como jefe de misión de ONUSAL)