Zulia must choose between inclusion and socialism on 16D
Pablo Pérez will attempt to preserve the opposition's no-loss record over the past 14 years. In the October 7 elections, Chávez's faction came out victorious in 19 of the 21 municipalities of Zulia state, but Governor Pablo Pérez remains as the first option. Francisco Arias has already had a stint as governor when he backed the opposition, but the candidates of the official sector have failed to win when the main seat at the Palace of the Condors has been at stake
Leading in the polls is Pablo Pérez Alvarez (43), incumbent governor seeking reelection and backed by the opposition Unified Democratic Panel. In 2008, he won with 53% of all votes. He is followed by Francisco Arias Cárdenas (62), a candidate sponsored by official-sector party PSUV and all other allies of the Patriotic Coalition. He was the governor of Zulia from 1995 to 2000.
Two women are also in the running: María Josefina Bolívar (Democratic Organization United for Peace and Freedom), who received over 7,000 votes in the October 7 presidential elections; and Iris Rincón (52) from the party A New Vision for My Country. Both offer to merge the strengths of the opposition and the official sector and pose as new alternatives to the current polarization.
In the presidential elections held this past October 7, Hugo Chávez won in 19 of Zulia's 21 municipalities (53.28 %). Only in Maracaibo and Lagunillas did opposition candidate Henrique Capriles win. Experts fail to agree on the impact of the outcome of the October 7 elections on those being held on December 16. Over the past 14-year span, Chávez has not managed to get one of his candidates elected in Zulia.
"One of Zulia's Own"
Pablo Pérez's main proposal is inclusion and continuity of social and scholarship program Jesús Enrique Lossada (JEL), created in 2003 and benefitting over 85,000 university students, recently expanded to include 2,000 postgraduate students. In his fight against poverty, the governor has developed the "Sister Francisca" and "No Hunger" plans for 1.3 million people. Pérez also offered to build a hospital in the West of Maracaibo, a childbirth center in the Eastern Coastal Region of Lake Maracaibo and emergency hotline 171 Funsaz for Cabimas. He aims to further his school meals and retirement benefits programs and grant subsidies for housing and disabled individuals. In his four years in office, he has remodeled over 200 schools.
In his fight against crime, Pablo Pérez has created school and motorcycle brigades, as well as reinforced video surveillance systems and provided resources for police squads. Regarding infrastructure, he could not complete the work being done on the Western Highway (a significant section of the road from Lara to Zulia states remains undone) as a result of centralization. He continues his claim for fair budget allocations for maintenance of roads and the Lake Maracaibo Bridge.
"Arias at the heart of Zulia"
Francisco Arias Cárdenas points out that Zulia cannot be left out of the national transition toward Socialism and a communal state. He seeks to lower crime rates and follow through on the Great Mission Housing Venezuela, which in 2012 has delivered 25,000 homes and expects to award another 60,000 in 2013. After realigning himself with the president, Cárdenas now says that decentralization must be viewed as the transfer of power to organized communities. He offers a surgical plan and seeks to put an end to third-party electricity and health services. He intends to improve roads and highways and proposes fines for excessive energy consumption and implementation of chips to monitor fuel usage.
Translated by Félix Rojas Alva
That political protest in Venezuela has lost momentum seems pretty obvious: people are no longer building barricades to block off streets near Plaza Francia in Altamira (eastern Caracas), an anti-government stronghold; no new images have been shown of brave and dashing protesters with bandanna-covered faces clashing with the National Guard in San Cristóbal, in the western state of Táchira; and those who dreamed of a horde of "Gochos" (Tachirans) descending in an avalanche to stir up revolt in Caracas have been left with no option but to wake up to reality.