"We need to insist on direct contact for this campaign"
According to Juan Mijares, on the sites visited by opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski, affective ties were forged with the Democratic Unity
Last Friday (October 26), you dismissed any fraud on October 7, regardless of the government advantageous position and the bias of the National Electoral Council (CNE). In default of fraud, where did you fail?
It is not that we dismiss any fraud. Yes, it is not possible without discovering it. In other words, they could not cheat so as to infer that the results were otherwise.
In other words, there was no fraud because they could not do it.
In any election, manual or automatic, it is possible for someone to manipulate voting if the counterpart allows so or is unaware. And we made provision to ensure respect for the people's will.
In any case, if President Hugo Chávez won in the absence of fraud, where did you fail?
In order to win, we needed seven and a half million votes in a scenario with 20% of abstention and an increase in the register of voters. We started at five and a half million (what we made in 2010); therefore, we needed two million votes. Out of this amount, we got one million. This takes us to six and a half million votes, the numbers obtained. That is, we missed one million votes.
That million votes had to be taken from abstainers and Chávez's followers.
It was between abstainers and a portion of Chávez's followers to be captivated. We did not make it in part. Many Venezuelans live in conditions that make them difficult to opt for an alternative that they probably like, but they accept the government to prevent what they think could be the loss of...
Social policies, at the end of the day. And the challenge is to convince Venezuelans that with the democratic alternative, they will not only face these same conditions, but also better and more.
Why should people prefer, in terms of social policies, the copy, if they have the original?
No, no. Henrique Capriles' message managed to captivate a significant portion of the people. People dared dream of a different, all-inclusive country. This remains valid and it is the only way we have to follow. Part of the things we must understand is how segments of the populations have conquered some rights in the (President Hugo) Chávez's era. We need to ensure its continuity, with the requisite structural change to go beyond circumstantial missions (welfare programs.)
You said, particularly in the last days, that numbers were virtually even. Did you say so because you actually believed so or because you would rather not disappoint followers?
We kept the goal of seven and a half million votes in a scenario of high turnout.
Reference has been made of all the odds stacked in favor of the government and the CNE complicity. How to prevent the replication of this scheme in the gubernatorial election of December 16?
We need to be aware of the adversary's comparative advantage over us. For this reason, we need, in principle, to captivate a portion of the population that still votes the government and afterwards overcome the government abusive way of electioneering.
Through the old way of making politics: direct contact; direct relationship with people.
The opposition candidate did it, didn't he?
Precisely. On the sites visited by Henrique (Capriles Radonski), affective and organic ties were established with the Democratic Unity. Some people were convinced of this choice and will keep on working with us. This explains the additional million votes that we conquered relative to the previous election.
Which segment of the population was focused by a candidacy which, in the opinion of some observers, rather approached the middle class than other sectors?
The key approach took place in the downtrodden, the youth (18-34 year-old people), the women, and the people on welfare. Here there is the core of the necessary votes to attain the goal set of seven and a half million. And we need to keep working on it.
Are you working on this goal ahead of the gubernatorial election?
I am a member of the technical support team for the Unified Democratic Panel (MUD) as to setting the election strategies and planning. We are working on that. The completion of the report submitted to the country on the results of October 7 forms part of the assessment conducted to make corrections and learn from the experience.
Which corrections ought to be made?
The most effective one from the political and election viewpoint, again: face to face; keeping in touch with the people. Next the defense of vote comes one of the most significant accomplishments. We managed to be present in all voting centers (99.3%); this means the existence of a network and logistics in every last nook and cranny in the country. All these accomplishments can be retained ahead of December 16 and onwards.
This means that the strategy should be the same as in the presidential election campaign.
The strategy, basically, should be continuing taking part in voting.
Did Capriles Radonski do the right thing in running for reelection as Miranda state governor?
Capriles Radonski amassed a leadership in the election; he is our best candidate for Miranda Government and he ensures continuity of his own management.
Is not too much a risk putting in jeopardy all what he accomplished on October 7? Would a national leader be lost in the event of defeat?
That is right, in the event of losing. However, risks are taken in politics. Leaders should do it, and Henrique has done it as well. He is making a commitment, which resides in preventing the possibility that Miranda state residents will fall again into the hands of Chávez's followers. This must be recognized.
Translated by Conchita Delgado
Cristian Fonseca, a businessman in La Candelaria district downtown Caracas, was doing the accounts in his small shop office on Sunday December 21, 2008. The Christmas shopping season kept him working late hours into the night. It was around 11 p.m. and his phone rang. A friend broke the bad news to him over the telephone.