Venezuela’s Election: Operation Complete!

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Hugo Chávez
Hugo Chávez, courtesy of Bernardo Londoy/flickr (cc-nc-sa)

As a great revolutionary commander, Hugo Chávez knows how to motivate his troops. His military career clearly inspires him in his current job as a populist leader.

It’s been deliciously entertaining to follow last Sunday’s election on Chávez’s blog and twitter stream. I thought I’d (roughly) translate a few selected pieces of his rhetoric for the benefit of  all the English-speakers out there. Here’s how the Venezuelan president rallied his troops on the eve of the election:

21:50, Saturday 25 September – Chávez’s blog

“These have been difficult times. Full of pain. But the People are taking it into their stride. Fight. And always vanquish! The time has come, so let’s go! Charge!!

We pray God and give our love to those who suffer most. And despite the pain and the exhausting effort, we leave early for the battle.

Everybody on the offensive at reveille! We will demonstrate again that the revolution is here to stay! No one remains without voting!

The bugle call must resound in every corner of the Nation announcing what will be a great Popular Victory!!

Come on, all candangueros and candangueras, tweet reports from the Operation Willian Lara!”

Chávez described his battle plan for the United Socialist Party (PSUV) to retain its two-third majority in parliament in a brilliant piece of military strategy. Too bad it didn’t quite work out. But the PSUV still won over half of the seats; a face-saving ‘victory’ from the president’s point of view.

He had christened the PSUV’s election campaign “Operation Willian Lara” in memory of a state governor who died in a car accident earlier this month. The operation was divided into four phases: “Charge! Sustained Attack!” from 6 am to 12 am; “Demolishing Sweep!” from 12 to 4pm,  “Stepping Up the Pace” from 4pm until the closure of poll stations, and finally the “Consolidation!” phase until the “great victory” has been obtained. What military precision…

Here is selection from Chávez’ very active election day on Twitter. He took to calling himself “candanga” and his followers “candangueros and candagueras”. The only plausible translation I could find for the Central American word “candanga” is “devil” in the sense of the “prince of the rebel angels.”

04:52 Sep 26th: Good morning World of Patriots! May the reveille resound throughout this wet land! Arise, My People, and unsheathe your sword! God may be with us!

04:57 Sep 26th: Come on then, just like JoséFélix in La Victoria: We must Vanquish! We shall Vanquish!

05:03 Sep 26th: Now my friends, a light breakfast, take all the precautions, and prepare everything, because the attack starts at 0600!

06:12 Sep 26th: The weather is good this morning, my friends! It’s just 20 minutes until the attack is launched! Let’s go, with the force of the past centuries! VOTE!

06:34 Sep 26th: Well, it is 6 in the morning! From this point on, the Venezuelan people begin to write a new page of history! Attack!

06:37 Sep 26th: Come on everybody!! The first phase of Operation Willian Lara has started! Armored Attack!

09:36 Sep 26th: May the growing avalanche of votes continue! At this time we’ve already broken the record in the number of opened polling stations. What a nice day. Come on, the homeland is waiting!

10:24 Sep 26th: You should read The Reflections of Fidel: “If I were Venezuelan”. Thank you Fidel, for always keeping Venezuela in your mind and in your heart!

10:41 Sep 26th: Come on, come on, dear comrades, boys and girls, my life companions! Sustain the MASS ATTACK!

10:48 Sep 26th: Maximum mobilization, push hard across the front lines! To all Bolívar200 commanders: maintain the momentum of the attack! WE WILL VANQUISH!

12:55 Sep 26th: Ok, I’m going to VOTE! With my children and grandchildren! So that they have a True Homeland! Come on everyone! There are enough Maisantas!

13:03 Sep 26th: Come on Comrades, we are moving from the 1st to the 2nd Phase of Operation Willian Lara: “devastating sweep”. Intensify the charge!

14:38 Sep 26th: How easy and quick it is to vote! Come on everybody, Let’s CRUSH! DEMOLISH!

16:56 Sep 26th: Well … Now we’re entering the 3rd phase: STEP UP THE PACE! This means ACCELERATING THE CRUSHING AND THE DEMOLITION! Let’s do the rest, then.

19:48 Sep 26th: Well my Candangueros and Candangueras, now stay alert! We are in the middle of the Consolidation Phase! We will Vanquish!

20:32 Sep 26th: Well, they say that the people are coming to Miraflores! Well then I’m expecting them here! But mind the CONSOLIDATION! Nobody lowers their guard!

21:28 Sep 26th: Well, here we are, waiting… I ask everyone to prepare to receive and accept the results. It’s been another great day!

23:55 Sep 26th: Let’s wait and not despair, my Candangueras and Candangueros! I say with Bolivar:  GetPreparedForVictoryWhichYouHoldOnYourSpearheads!

03:03 Sep 27th: Well my dear fellow countrymen, it has been a great day and we achieved a solid victory. Enough to continue to deepen the…

03:10 Sep 27th: … Bolivarian and Democratic Socialism. We must continue to strengthen the Revolution! A new Victory for the People. I congratulate all of you.

Around 11 am, Sep 27th: Hello world of fighters! A short repairing break and… Let’s continue the battle! The sharks say they won. Well, keep “winning” this way!

(Note: The hyperlinks are my additions, and the times are Venezuelan time.)

Pretty entertaining, huh? Chávez apparently has an army of twitterers to help him monitor and reply to tweets. But I’m pretty convinced that he is closely involved in the formulation of his tweets. Can you really imagine a young aide writing in this colloquial and conquering style, before getting the text approved by a top bureaucrat?

Medvedev‘s twitter account provides an interesting contrast: always written in flawless English, the president of Russia’s tweets are very politically correct (Sept 14th: “Thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes. It’s very nice, really.“) His tweeting civil servants probably even have a team researching disasters in the world, because the president never misses an occasion to express his condolences.

It’s pretty clear that Medvedev has a different target audience than Chávez.

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