Venezuela Split in Two / Yoani Sanchez

Votes counted: 99.2%. Number of valid votes and percentages.

When information is systematically hidden and distorted, it can happen that a certain event brings to light the prolonged manipulation of the news. This is exactly what happened with the Venezuelan elections and their treatment in Cuba’s official media. Hugo Chavez died and the presidential campaign started, and the Island’s television as well as its print media  threw themselves into the task of demonstrating how unpopular the opposition candidate Henrique Capriles was. Every day, starting in the early morning, national television assured us that Nicolas Maduro would slaughter him at the polls. A resounding victory was predicted from all sides.

So last Sunday night, when they finally released the election results, the majority of the Cuban audience didn’t understand what had happened. The slight difference in votes between Maduro and Capriles confused many who had believed the official newspaper Granma when it boasted of the immense popular support the “substitute president” could count on. However, the tiny difference between the two candidates, less than a quarter of a million votes, didn’t correspond to the predictions made by Cuban officialdom. The reality is that the ballot boxes showed a Venezuela almost divided in two, polarized, one where both the government and the opponents have millions of citizens who support them. A nation divided in half, in which the ideological confrontation is exacerbated, a nation that seems doomed to a crisis of major proportions.

From now on the Cuban press will find it more difficult to speak of Venezuela as a country of only one color, of a single party. We have now listened to the polls and what they have said is a long way from the unanimity they wanted us to believe, a long way from total support for Nicolas Maduro.

17 April 2013