Henry D’Arthenay is a graduate of the University of Navarro in Media Studies and the lead singer/guitarist of Venezuelan rock group La Vida Boheme. He and his bandmates live in the country’s capital of Caracas where lots of political turmoil continues since the presidential elections on Sunday April 14th.
I spoke with D’Arthenay in his home in Caracas via Skype about the unrest. He also explained the voting process in Venezuela, the role the country’s media plays, and much more.
An excerpt from PT. 1 of the interview:
When you vote here, fuck, we have such a complicated way. It’s not like you go to a place, put a vote and put it in a basket which, in my opinion, should be enough. No! You go to your Centro Electoral, the place where you vote. First, they take your fingerprint into a data system, then you step into this tiny box and there’s a screen. It’s an automated electoral system. You push the button on the candidate you want and that machine prints a tiny paper with the name of the guy you voted for. You fold it, you put it in a box. Then, before stepping out, you have to sign a book with your signature and you put your fingerprint.
Is that why there are all those pictures of people with their pinkie fingers dipped in ink?
Yes! After they put your finger, they moist it in this ink and, well maybe you can’t see it from here but I still have some because it’s indelible ink. That way they don’t have people voting two times. It’s made up to be fail-proof but it actually isn’t.
An excerpt from PT. 2 of the interview:
Inside the Chavismo, it’s very diverse, as diverse as it always was in every country of the world. With the opposition, it’s the same. What was the only thing that was tying them up? The left being with Chavez and the others being against Chavez. That was it! Their moral compass was set by being with Chavez or being against Chavez.
So what’s happening here is like losing the best character. It’s like when Friends was over and Joey started and people started watching Joey and they said “this sucks.” It’s like having Seinfeld without [Jerry] Seinfeld. We’ve been living a Chavez-centric policy for almost 15 years. Now that he’s gone, the institutions and how trustworthy they are, it’s all coming afloat because Chavismo now has a challenge. They have to try to gather their forces around an idea that’s not a person. They lost a lot of people during these elections and it was because a lot of the people, they weren’t voting for the socialist project as much as they were voting for Chavez.
Irregularities Reveal Mexico’s Election Far From Fair
“So long as Mexico’s right controls the TV media – and can get some extra insurance by manipulating the electoral process as needed – Mexico will have a very limited form of democracy and will also fall far short of its economic potential.”
The media rewrites history every day, and in so doing, it often impedes our understanding of the present. Mexico’s presidential election of a week ago is a case in point. Press reports tell us that Felipe Calderón, the outgoing president from the PAN (National Action party), “won the 2006 election by a narrow margin”.
But this is not quite true, and without knowing what actually happened in 2006, it is perhaps more difficult to understand the widespread skepticism of the Mexican people toward the results of the current election. The official results show Institutional Revolutionary party (PRI) candidate Enrique Peña Nieto winning 38.2% of the vote, to 31.6% for Andrés Manuel López Obrador, of the party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and 25.4% for Josefina Vázquez Mota of the PAN. It does not help that the current election has been marred by widespread reports of vote-buying.
Read More at the Guardian
2.- The PRD lost the presidency but showed that the Left has mobilizing power.
Most political analysts had left PRD candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador for dead at the start of the campaign; he couldn’t seem to even reach 20% in the opinion polls. All signs are that he finished above 30% and won a significant majority in Mexico City, the country’s political and cultural center, and large pluralities in several other states (including several that were unlikely wins for a leftist candidate, such as Puebla, Quintana Roo, and Tlaxcala). The PRD won the mayor’s office in Mexico City again with over 60% of the vote, and took the governorship in Morelos and probably Tabasco. Overall, it wasn’t a bad night for the Mexican Left, even though they lost the biggest prize, and it suggests that the PRD and its allied parties may have more resonance in Mexican society than many analysts believe.
From Five Take-Aways from the Mexican Election, Mexico Institute
I lived there for almost a decade, so I’m familiar with the challenge of covering politics in the US South. The challenge stems from that region’s peculiar social phenomenon: double consciousness.
Basically, seeing shouldn’t always be believing. During the GOP primaries in South Carolina, I smiled to myself when I read reporting that was awed by churches that look like shacks, trios of wooden crosses mounted on roadsides and highway billboards admonishing drivers that they must be born again. I was reminded of HL Mencken, ever the cosmopolitan aesthete, failing to comprehend the pentecostal essence of public life there. And like Mencken, the reporting I read was factual, credible and sometimes funny, but often unable to see through the veil of culture to concrete truth.
Like the US as a whole, the land is soaked with religiousity and racism, but unlike the rest of the country, the land has been soaking in them for about 400 years. The result is that religion and racism are completely natural features in the landscape of public affairs - and that to notice would be like noticing the air you breath and the water you drink, and doing that is to stand outside of the normal patterns of political life.
Even though it’s a solid year away, the 2012 Presidential Campaign is already heating up, and with it, the same complaints about our electoral system that crop up every four years. Voters often say that they wish there was a viable candidate outside of the traditional two-party system, someone who could come in and shake things up so that we’re not necessarily limited to the same two choices.
This time, however, there’s a difference. One man has heard the call, America. One man is willing to step outside the established system: Dilbert creator Scott Adams has announced his candidacy for president, running as an independent on the platform of “managers are totally dumb, am I right?” And as unlikely as it seems, we here at ComicsAlliance think he’s a totally viable candidate.