Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Poll Shows Chavez 15 Points Ahead of Rival

A survey published by polling firm Datanalisis indicates that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has a 15 point lead over opposition candidate Henrique Capriles.  The June 14-23 poll found that 46.1 percent of voters backed Chavez, while only 30.8 percent supported Capriles. The remaining 23.1 percent of respondents were undecided, according to Datanalisis.

This stands in stark contrast to another poll released earlier this month by Varianzas which showed the contest to be much closer, with Chavez leading Capriles by little more than four points (50.3 to 46 percent).

Over at Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights, Venezuela expert David Smilde puts more stock in Datanalisis, which he refers to as the country’s “leading polling firm.” According to Smilde, the poll is bad news for the Capriles campaign, because it found fewer undecided voters than previous surveys:

“[Undecided voters] have declined from 31.4% in May to 26.7% in June to 23.1% in July. Analysis of formerly undecided but now decided voters shows that, so far, they are breaking in favor of HCR [Capriles] 55.4% to 44.6%, which is good, but not good enough. Even if they all fell that way, the gap would be reduced to only 12.8%. However, Datanálisis looks at the leanings of the remaining undecided voters and shows that in all likelihood, they would break almost 2 to 1 in HCF’s [Chavez’s] favor. Taking these voters into account, HCF is up by 16.3 points.”

While there are still a little less than three months to go before the October 7 presidential election, Chavez’s commanding lead will be tough to beat. Unless the dire rumors about his health prove true, the leftist president likely has another six-year term ahead of him.

News Briefs
  • The Miami Herald covers indigenous protests in the town of Toribio, which has become a hotspot for a movement calling for an end to the presence of both military forces and guerrillas.  A split appears to have emerged in the movement, however, after one community leader accused the protestors of having ties to the FARC. More from El Colombiano.
  • The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has released a report (.pdf) which claims that Europe’s largest bank, HSBC, allowed Mexican drug cartels to launder billions of dollars through its US operations.
  • The L.A. Times with a critique of president-elect Enrique Peña Nieto’s security strategy during his 2005-2011 term as governor of Mexico State. The paper claims that last Friday’s brutal attack on a Christian youth group is the latest sign of rising insecurity in the state. According to the National Citizens' Observatory of Female Murders, women have been disproportionately affected by this trend, with an average of two women killed or “disappeared” per day in Mexico State last year.
  • There is some potentially good news for women in Mexico, however. As IPS notes, the July 1st elections saw an unprecedented number of victories for female candidates, with women set to take a third of the seats in Congress.
  • The head of Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) hit back against mounting allegations that the party engaged in widespread vote-buying yesterday, claiming to have “concrete evidence” that Enrique Peña Nieto’s victory was perfectly legitimate.
  • The New York Times profiles Cuba’s slow progress in meeting its own economic reform goals. Although authorities promised in April to transfer some 40 percent of domestic production into the non-state sector “in four or five years,” resistance to change from midlevel party officials and hardline leaders has made this goal unattainable, according to experts consulted by the Times.
  • In other Cuba news, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas allegedly called on Raul Castro to free jailed USAID contractor Alan Gross in a bid to free up a US aid package. Abbas may have been attempting to cause Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtninen, chairwoman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, to lift a block on a $147 million grant to the Palestinian Authority.
  • The Miami Herald takes a look at the sharp political divides in the Argentine media, noting that President Cristina Fernandez “has held only five news conferences in almost as many years as president, and even then she used the opportunity to criticize Argentine reporters.”
  • Amnesty International released a report today which claims that the Ecuadoran government is abusing the judicial system in order to target opposition indigenous and campesino groups. The report (.pdf) documents 24 instances in which community leaders opposed to development projects were subjected to arbitrary arrest or denied bail.
  • The Global Post has a series on global warming in Latin America, which could have a devastating impact on impoverished communities throughout the region.