Latin American Election Blogging

November is quite the electoral month in what has already been a year of elections throughout the Western Hemisphere. The month has already seen the return of Sanidinista leader, Daniel Ortega to Nicaragua's presidency. The United States – condemned by many for its influence in Nicaragua's elections – shifted to a Democratic majority congress. Political parties, meanwhile, took a hit in Peru's municipal elections last weekend, where independent politicians attracted the most votes. This coming Sunday, Ecuador will join the changing tide as its citizens must decide between pro-business candidate Álvaro Noboa and his second-round competitor, Rafael Correa, a US-educated economist viewed by many as a staunch leftist. The following week will move the spotlight to Venezuela, where the ever-controversial Hugo Chavez finds himself in what has become a close race … that is, if the latest polls are to be believed.


On November 5 Nicaraguans put Daniel Ortega back in power in the first round of presidential voting. The controversial figure, who served as president from 1985 to 1990, actually received a smaller percentage of votes than in his unsuccessful presidential bids in 1990 and 2000

Alfonso Naranjo Rosabal, a Cuban journalist who used to blog at Cuba Va [ES] and now works at Tiempo21 [ES], contributed a post to the Nicaraguan group blog Barricada [ES] about his elation following the confirmation of Daniel Ortega's victory [ES].

Todavía estoy bajo el influjo de la gran victoria Sandinista del 5 de noviembre, cuando Daniel Ortega Saavedra junto a su pueblo, se las jugaron de todas todas, para lograr el arrollador triunfo contra las maniobras del imperialismo norteamericano y algún que otro lacayo vecino.

Los nicas de a pie estaban ya arrechos de tantos robos y mentiras, de tantas promesas incumplidas por sucesivos gobiernos que lo que hicieron fue desangrar las riquezas y por ende al sufrido pueblo centroamericano, el segundo más pobre de América Latina, dijeron ya, basta, como de alta verga que son y lo demostraron cuando la Revolución triunfante del 19 de julio de 1979.

I'm still under the influence of the great Sandinista victory of November 5, when Daniel Ortega Saavedra – along with his people – gambled everything to achieve a sweeping triumph against the maneuvers of North American imperialism and another neighboring lackey.

Nicaraguans were on their feet, already angry with enough robberies and lies, of so many promises unfulfilled by successive governments who bled the wealth from the suffering Central American people, the second most poor of Latin America, they said enough, no more, courageous they are, and they showed it in the triumphant Revolution of July 19, 1979.

Ahora todos unidos como lo pidieron Bolívar y Martí van a volar verga por una Nicaragua libre y soberana, dueña de sus destinos, sin el influjo de aquellos que desde meses atrás pretendieron engañar al pueblo con recortes de las remesas, con el retorno de la guerra y no se con cuantas patrañas más para impedir el triunfo del Sandinismo.

Volaremos verga juntos, todos los latinoamericanos; volaremos verga, por la Operación Milagro, por la Alfabetización paralizada, por la construcción de viviendas, por la explotación justa de las riquezas del pueblo, por la salud y la educación gratuita, pues como dijo mí amigo el poeta Silvio Rodríguez: “Andará Nicaragua, Su camino de gloria, porque fue sangre savia la que hizo su historia”.

Now, everyone united like Bolívar and Martí asked for, we're going to fight for a Nicaragua free and sovereign, owner of her own destiny, without the influence of those who, for months now, tried to cheat our people with cuts in remittances, with the return to war, and I don't know how many more hoaxes to impede the triumph of Sandinismo.

We will fight together, all of Latin America; we will fight, for Operation Miracle, for literacy, for the construction of houses, for just exploitation of the people's resources, for health and free education, like my friend, the poet Silvio Rodríguez said: “Nicaragua will walk on its road of glory, because it was blood that made its history.”

Some commenters on Barricada, however, aren't so quick to agree with the Cuban's assessment.

Justo Hernandez: Sweeping victory? You're definitely walking in the clouds.

Xirdneh: “Sweeping” if more than 60% of the vote was against the Sandinistas? Please leave the stupidity aside.

Buenaventura: Definitely, the left – as a proposal of government – is headed towards the cemetery if they keep making blind mistakes with “know-it-all” leaders and demigods and, above all, the lack of internal critique. My recommendation is that the left can only be revolutionary and really leftist if we avoid the near-religious climax of how we worship our “leaders.” Certainly, the Sandinistas are sure that Daniel is a rapist, puppet maker, manipulator, hypocrite … but he is THEIR MAXIMUM LEADER.


Two days later, Democrats in the United States took power of the House and Senate. Latin American bloggers mostly cheered the results as a slap in the face to generally disliked President Brush. Boz argues that “the fact that Democrats will approve trade preference regimes and especially ATPDEA should be seen as a win for the region. Erwin Cifuentes offers a mega-roundup of reaction to the US elections throughout Latin America and Western Hemisphere Policy Watch says sneeringly that “Latin America's Left Welcomes a Democrat-controlled Congress.”


Sunday marked municipal elections in this Andean country that just recently re-elected former President Alan García. The results, however, turned out to be a disappointment for Garcia's APRA party which lost 10 of the 12 regional governorships. The winners, it turned out, were independent candidates, writes [ES] Perú Político:

En el Perú de los últimos años, las elecciones municipales han estado marcadas por los sucesivos triunfos de los candidatos independientes. Desde 1993 en adelante, los partidos han debido hacer frente a alternativas puramente locales. El artículo explora este fenómeno y hace un recuento histórico de las elecciones municipales en el Perú del último cuarto de siglo.

Hoy, domingo 19 de noviembre, los peruanos acudimos una vez más a las urnas a elegir autoridades municipales y regionales. En juego están 25 gobiernos regionales, 194 alcaldías provinciales y 1684 alcaldías distritales. Las encuestas no le han sido favorables a los partidos políticos, ni a los más nuevos, como el Partido Nacionalista (PNP) que lidera Ollanta Humala, ni a los más antiguos como el tradicional Partido Aprista Peruano (PAP). Ambas organizaciones esperan fuertes retrocesos electorales con relación a la segunda vuelta presidencial de junio pasado, en la que se enfrentaron. Así, en el departamento de Ayacucho, donde Humala obtuvo el 83% de los votos en junio, el PNP está alejado de los primeros lugares. Y en Trujillo, bastión histórico y cuna del aprismo, el partido de Haya de la Torre parece resignado a perder la alcaldía provincial.

In Peru, in recent years, municipal elections have been marked by the successive triumphs of independent candidates. From 1993 on, the political parties have had to face completely local alternatives. This post explores the phenomenon and makes a historic account of municipal elections in Peru over the last quarter century.

Today, Sunday, Novemebr 19, Peruvians head one more time to the ballot boxes to choose municipal and regional authorities. In play are 25 regional governments, 194 provincial mayorships and 1,684 district mayorships. The surveys have not been favorable to political parties, neither to the new ones like the Nationalist Party (PNP) lead by Ollanta Humala, nor to the older ones like the traditional Peruvian Aprista Party (PAP). Both organizations expect strong push-backs related to the second round of presidential elections last June in which they faced each other. Which is why, in the department of Ayacucho, where Humala obtained 83% of the votes in June, the PNP is now further away from the leaders. And in Trujillo, historic bastion and cradle of Aprismo, the party of Haya de la Torre seems resigned to lose the provincial mayorship.

En realidad, no es la primera vez que los partidos políticos llegan mal parados a unos comicios municipales y regionales. Desde que las organizaciones políticas entraron en crisis aguda a finales de la década de los 80, la arena municipal les ha representado un verdadero dolor de cabeza, mucho más aún que los comicios presidenciales y legislativos. Durante la década de los 90, los independientes ocuparon los primeros lugares en las elecciones municipales y los partidos políticos tradicionales llegaron, en un momento, a desaparecer virtualmente del mapa.

En resumen, la historia reciente de las votaciones municipales está marcada por el éxito de los independientes. Este éxito tiene como punto de partida las elecciones de 1993, en las que ganaron 66 de las 185 provincias en juego. Desde entonces, las listas independientes, en conjunto, han sido siempre las más votadas.

In reality, this is not the first time that the political parties arrive in bad shape to the municipal and regional elections. Ever since the political organizations entered into a severe crisis at the end of the 80's, the municipal arena has represented a real headache for the parties. During the 90's the independent candidates led the municipal elections and the political parties began to virutally disappear from the map.

To summarize, the recent history of municipal voting is marked by the success of the independents. This success has, as a point of departure, the 1993 elections in which independents took 66 of the 185 provinces in play. From then on, the listed independents, together, have always been the most voted.

This year's municipal elections were also marked by a citizen media project led by BlogsPerú, which aggregated related posts [ES] from Peruvian bloggers using a particular tag. We'll soon see the same approach used by Venezuelan bloggers as they prepare for their December 3 presidential elections.


Rather than aggregating individual blog posts, citizen journalists in Ecuador have created accounts at Ecuador Elige [see this interview with founder Gullermo Sornoza for more information] to create a single compendium of electoral resources and campaign commentary. Most of the posts consist of brief introductions to articles and editorials taken from mainstream media sources, like this note titled “Is Ecuador Neoliberal?

Gran parte de la fama de Correa, es producto de la manipulación y el juego de palabras; principalmente aquellas relacionadas con el “socialismo del siglo XXI” (las exactas mismas palabras de Chávez) como la solución a los problemas del pais. Al mismo tiempo, hay una serie de respetables pensadores que analizan la verdadera situación del Ecuador, y que nos hacen caer en cuenta de cuánto se califica de manera aberrada a los términos capitalismo, liberalismo y neoliberalismo.

Es muy extenso hablar de cada una de estas ideologías; sin embargo, encontré hace algún tiempo un artículo en EL UNIVERSO, que bien nos podría ayudar a analizar de una manera real lo que tanto ataca Correa desde su punto de vista limitado y conflictivo.

A large part of Correa's fame is a product of manipulation and wordplay; principally words related with the “socialism of the 21st century” (the exact same words used by Chavez) as a solution to the problems of the country. At the same time, there is a collection of respected thinkers that analyze the real situation of Ecuador and make us realize the erroneous ways the terms capitalism, liberalism, and neoliberalism are described.

It's very extensive to speak of each of these ideologies; however, I found a little time ago in an article in El Universo that could very well help us analyze just what Correa is attacking from his limited and conflictive point of view.

But not all posts are so partisan. “¿Que ofrecen los presidenciables en materia de Seguridad?” (“What will the candidates offer in terms of security?”) is almost surgical in its neutral explanation of each candidate's platform.

Ecuadoreans will choose a new President on Sunday.


Finally, to Venezuela, where journalist and blogger, Luis Carlos Diaz has put forth a series of proposals, which have resulted in the impressive campaign of citizen coverage, Elecciones en 3D [ES].

Venezuelan contributor Iria Puyosa will soon offer us more in-depth coverage from Elecciones en 3D, but for now, I leave you with a translation of Diaz's second proposal for participating bloggers:

Para ejercitarnos en la cobertura electoral para el día de la votación, probemos a hacer este ejercicio: intentemos conversar con el vecino. No se trata de comenzar una charla diciendo “es que esto está jodido” o preguntando “¿y cómo ves la vaina?”… o sí, hable como le dé la gana, pero pregunte y préstese también a escuchar la voz del otro.

Si usted puede hacer esto con sus amig@s y vecin@s, pues felicidades, puede postearlo si le pareció interesante. No hace falta que le meta un grabador en la boca y “prepare” una entrevista. Vamos, que hablar no nos cuesta nada. Es como sacarle conversa a los taxistas, filósofos espontáneos del volante que la ciudad nos regala.
Una vez superada esta primera etapa vayamos a la segunda: hablar y escuchar al adversario político.

To get things started for the electoral coverage on voting day, let's try to do this exercise: let's try to converse with our neighbor. It's not about a chat saying “this is messed up” or asking, “how do you see the issue.” Speak with enthusiasm, but ask questions, and also pay attention to the other's voice.

If you can do this with your friends and neighbors, congratulations, you can post about it if you find it interesting. No need to stick a microphone in front of their mouth and prepare an interview. Come on, speaking doesn't harm anyone. It's just like striking up a conversation with a taxi-driver; spontaneous steering-wheel philosophers that the city has given us. Once we've overcome this first chapter, we'll go to the second: speaking and listening to the political adversary.

Señor opositor, señor revolucionario, aunque sea difícil creerlo, hay un adversario suyo que también sabe leer y escribir, es gente y lleva a los chamos al colegio, y tiene sueños y esperanzas en este país.

No cuesta nada encontrarlos, la gente que piensa distinto a uno está en todas partes. Puede aproximarse primero a algunos blogs y leerlos aunque se le revuelva la bilis o no esté de acuerdo con lo que el otro plantea. Luego de ello, prepárese para conversar con un adversario en la calle. Prepararse no significa armarse de un bate o de una retahíla preguntas incontestables, ni intentar convencer o cuestionar sin dejarlo hablar. Se supone que el 3D estaremos reportando una realidad que es más compleja que la que nuestros ojos ven, así que podemos hacerlo entendiendo los ojos del otro.

Sire of opposition, mister revolutionary, although it's difficult to believe, there is a political adversary of yours who also knows how to write and read, is human, and takes his or her kids to school and has dreams and hopes in this country.

It's not hard to find them, those people who think differently from another are everywhere. You can first get closer to a few blogs, read them even if they stir up bile or if you don't agree with what they write. Afterward, prepare yourself to converse with an adversary in the street. Preparing oneself does not mean arming yourself with a bat or a string of unanswerable questions, nor trying to convince or question without letting one speak. It can be supposed that Elecciones en 3D will be reporting a reality that is more complete than what our own eyes see. That way we can do it understanding the eyes of the other.

According to Diaz there are prizes for the best non-fiction story resulting from the proposal. Stay tuned to find out who wins.


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