Fanatical follower of self-denigrating speech, the average anti-Chavista shudders when he reads in the polls that Nicolás Maduro has an approval rating that exceeds twenty percent, well above several of his Latin American peers, and is almost paralyzed when he learns that Hugo Chavez, six long years after his physical disappearance, still arouses sympathies in more than half of the population.
Faced with the dilemma of surrendering to the evidence, he explains in imprecations of legend, cursing in the most varied, eloquent and painful ways the unfortunate day in which he had to come to be born in this land plagued with misfortune, surrounded by people so miserable and uncultured, so insignificant.
This very uplifting attitude, with which some people have had to deal with for twenty years, is accompanied by the strongest denial: it cannot be possible, someone is lying to us. Venezuela is not a country, it is a gigantic fraud. Life itself is a tortuous and endless fraud. A nightmare from which it is not possible to wake.
Nothing and no one is able to bring the average anti-Chavista to reason. Because intolerable and unacceptable, reality seems incomprehensible. Their political class, their propaganda machinery, their intellectuals, as long as they do nothing but feed and reproduce the same disgusted, incredulous, cynical common sentiment, they can offer very little or nothing.
On the contrary, they are a permanent source of the most elaborate explanations, and this is how they achieve that the most unlikely stories acquire the rank of truth, like the story saying that Chavismo can only be in power because it has committed, over and over again, electoral fraud. Venezuela is a country of shit. End the usurpation.
For a long time, “encuestology” [polling], that job halfway between scientific practice and prestidigitation, has tried to account for the existence of a curious phenomenon: hard Chavismo. If, for the average anti-Chavista, Chavismo in general is the cause and consequence of all evils, if it is itself a plague, what can be thought of hard Chavismo?
Hard Chavismo would be the worst in the very bad. If Chavismo is the disease, hard Chavismo is the aggressive terminal illness, the cause of the most terrible and painful conditions. If Chavismo is shit, hard Chavismo is excrescence.
Always according to the average anti-Chavista, only hard Chavismo can feel comfortable in a situation like the one we are living. He wants everything for himself, but at the same time is satisfied with very little. His political identification is only possible at the price of the suffering of the vast majority.
It does not matter if the attitude of the average anti-Chavista is far from being the way of thinking and feeling of the popular majorities. He assumes the right to judge that hard Chavismo, conformist, indolent, complicit, deserves suffering equal to or worse than the one it inflicts, and that is why he justifies snatching away its food and medicine, that it be humiliated and left to die in hospitals, be singled out, persecuted and murdered, be scammed by merchants, be forced to eat out of the trash, that his salary be inadequate, that he be the victim of criminal violence, be expelled from their lands and, when the occasion comes, to be bombed and annihilated. After all, everything that happens to them, as well as what should happen to them, is the ultimate responsibility of the government they support.
He believes they are incapable of discernment and criticism, devoid of intelligence and beauty, devoid of any virtue. If someone resists, that is the average anti-Chavista. Hard Chavismo only tolerates, sustains, endures, impedes the fall of what should have long since fallen.
If the United States ordered the anti-Chavista political class not to participate in the 2018 presidential elections, it was not because it considered it impossible to succeed, much less because of the absence of electoral guarantees, but because it was not in their plans to defeat Chavismo electorally. The imperial sovereign has been decisive in shaping this idea that Chavismo is an exterminable subject, who must die a violent death, no matter if this amounts to genocide.
The diagnosis is brutal, because it tells us about a certain dehumanization of politics, it refers us to socially entrenched hatreds and fears, it forces us to gauge the scope of imperial bestiality, it makes us have to deal with a reality that we already want to be different. But that is the diagnosis.
In general, polling gives us a partial portrait of reality, but does not investigate in depth the reasons that explain political identifications, perhaps because it does not correspond, perhaps because it is so committed to the defeat of Chavismo that it prefers to treat the average anti-Chavista with condescension, offering them few tools to understand their surroundings.
The first thing to understand is that so and so hard Chavismo is not simply a flow of votes. It is expressed, of course, electorally, but it is much more than that. One of its main characteristics and, at the same time, one of its advantages, is that it does not despise the country in which it lives. That makes the way it relates to politics a fundamentally joyful experience. It does not make politics based on the contempt of the other, but through the recovery of one’s own pride. Quite the opposite of the caricature image that has been built of him, he is severely critical of a government that, nevertheless, he considers his, to a greater or lesser extent, and he knows well that, in case anti-Chavismo regains power, it will govern with its back to popular interests. And if there is any doubt, it is enough to take stock of all the damage that it has caused trying to recover it, often appealing to non-democratic ways. He resists not so much for fear of losing the conquered or for fear of reprisals, as the survey takers usually say, but because he already proved that it is possible to live better and he wishes to do it again.
Pollsters lack what hard Chavismo has to spare: street. The problem with the average anti-chavista is another: he is convinced that having street is the same as lighting them up like a candle, Chavistas and all.
You can judge it however you like, but, wrong or not, hard Chavismo still feels he owns his destiny. And although they accuse him of taking a knee, having a price or selling out, the truth is that, in politics, that is priceless.
Translated by JRE/EF