Venezuela after Chavez
George Ciccariello-Maher is an assistant professor of political science at Drexel University in Philadelphia and author of the book “We Created Chavez,” which was published Wednesday by Duke University Press. Ciccariello-Maher spoke to the Trib regarding Nicolas Maduro's narrow victory over Henrique Capriles in the April 14 Venezuelan election to succeed the late President Hugo Chavez, who died last month.
Q: Capriles continues to call for a recount. Given that Maduro was Chavez's handpicked choice to succeed him, do you believe his election is legitimate?
A: Yes, it's certainly legitimate. If there is a recount, I think you'll see very, very little change. They've had a lot of tensions over elections in the past, and it forced the government in Venezuela to really step up its game electorally. What it has now is actually a pretty bulletproof system. When (Venezuelans) vote, there is an electronic receipt that's transmitted to be counted and then a receipt is immediately printed that is then placed into a ballot box. So there are actually two receipts after every single vote (and) it's very unlikely there would be any (substantial vote count) difference with a recount. The quality of this election is unassailable.
Q: If the results are unassailable, why do they continue to be contested so strongly?
A: I'm actually a little surprised that (Capriles) is pushing it as hard as he is right now because (the opposition) did so well. They put forth an astounding result (Maduro defeated Capriles by about 235,000 votes, 50.7 percent to 49.1 percent, after Chavez trounced Capriles by more than 10 percentage points in October). Politically, I think the smart thing for them to do is immediately accept (the election) and say, “Look, we're going to beat you the next time.”
Q: Why aren't they embracing that strategy?
A: They probably think that they should look like they are on the offensive, that they should look aggressive. It's also possible they think that by questioning the election, even though they know it's solid, they are showing their supporters that they take every vote seriously.
Q: In a country in which nearly half the state governors have a military background, how great a threat does Maduro's lack of military experience pose to his ability to lead?
A: It could generate some difficulty for Maduro, because some of the alternative leaders of the Chavista bloc do have a military background. They are not his greatest base of support in the Chavista ruling bloc.
Q: Do you foresee any thaw in U.S.-Venezuelan relations with Maduro in power?
A: I'm not optimistic (but) that really depends on whether the Obama administration recognizes the election and accepts the fact that Maduro was elected. (The administration has joined Capriles' call for a recount.)
Q: Maduro is now leading a country troubled by a struggling economy, rising inflation and a high crime rate. What kind of a leader do you believe he'll be?
A: The question is going to be how does he develop a collective leadership, because he himself will not be the glue that holds it together. I think Maduro knows perfectly well that he's not Chavez. If he didn't know that before the election, he certainly knows it now.
Eric Heyl is a staff writer for Trib Total Media (412-320-7857 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins president: General manager, coach won’t be fired
- Rossi: Crosby, Malkin didn’t sign on for this
- NFL notebook: Sanchez says Eagles signed Tebow as extra arm in camp
- Penguins’ Malkin: ‘We’re not a championship team’
- Serious injury reported in Penn Hills fire
- 3 names added to Tuskegee Airmen Memorial in Sewickley
- Parkway West closure canceled
- Defense dominates West Virginia’s spring game
- Hempfield man dies in single-vehicle accident
- Views of Heinz Field entice National Guard recruits
- Experts met in Nepal week ago to discuss earthquake they knew would rip into Kathmandu