What to Do with the Neither-Nor? / Regina Coyula

In the saga of our national dependence, Venezuela is only the most recent (and we hope the last) chapter. For this reason I have a great deal of interest in the Venezuelan presidential campaign. Both candidates are trying to attract the votes of the “ni-ni” (neither-nor). This is the part of the electorate that is neither forChávez nor for Capriles.

The term is amusing and also helps to define a wide social swath in Cuba – the electoral limbo between “the governmental heaven” and the “opposition hell.” This is a wide sector of the population that does not sympathize with the government but has not shown any interest in supporting changes proposed by dissidents. The latter has always been at a disadvantage since the government has been able to use repression and the broadcast media to instill fear, discredit the opposition and encourage rejection its proposals. Our ni-ni do not care for either political faction, whether it be those in power or those who dissent, because one wants to achieve power while the other wants to hold onto it.

This attitude works in favor of the government, which also benefits from a myth that there is a secret mark on each ballot and that surveillance cameras are strategically placed in polling places. There is the apathy that comes from knowing that one vote changes nothing. There is also the belief that one can know the vote tally for the electoral college even when, in this instance, the only information available will be the figures offered by the government’s electoral commissions. All these factors make it very difficult to nudge the ni-ni in a different direction.

Without a “public opinion” machine, and based only on my own observations, I can assure you that dissatisfaction and disenchantment are growing. The nation’s economic crisis has made manifest the deep social divisions in a project that promised equality. The social pyramid is run from the top down. The greatest dissatisfaction of workers is seeing that their salaries are not enough for them to achieve “the beautiful paradise of humanity.” Instead, they are now threatened by the shadow of unemployment.

As in Venezuela, success depends on whoever is able to convince the greatest number of ni-ni. Rather than end this discussion, I would like to invite you to expand it with your own ideas and opinions.

August 22 2012