Martinelli has a primary today, with the PRD voting a week from today

building materials
Dump truck loads of dirt and rocks. Were these gathered from the local river during the drought? It’s one of the things that the representante has been giving away, along with sand, cinderblocks and sheets of zinc roofing. Not to everybody, but figure that some others will get paying work from the property owners to incorporate these materials into new or expanded houses. Photo by Eric Jackson.

Primaries in which few talk about real issues

by Eric Jackson

I suppose it’s the most real of issues to Ricky Martinelli, and to his most fervent admirers. The trial is over but for the verdict, and he stands to be sent to prison, stripped of his right to run for office or even vote, and lose his EPASA newspaper chain. Recent stuff in his always sensationalist anyway tabloid La Critica have the former president’s camp screeching like wounded birds. So, yesterday morning did his usual friends at El Machetazo sell out of that rag? Or was it so embarrassing that they put it away to protect their fellow if competing supermarket baron? Or did someone figure that it appeared during the “period of reflection” with no campaigning allowed before the vote and cautiously avoid an argument with the Electoral Tribunal by taking it off sale?

Figure that Martinelli wins his RM party’s presidential primary today, but when the verdict in the New Business money laundering and graft trial comes down, or if he dodges that bullet but later this year faces judgment in the Odebrecht money laundering and graft trial, he will be out of the race. Then would come the judge shopping and the appeals, so that any conviction might be stayed at the end of the year when the Electoral Tribunal declares who will be on the May 2024 ballot.

So, given that Martinelli has been leading in most polls, and that some of his supporters have been calling for furious reactions to his legal problems and to official US characterizations of him as a miserable crook, would the faithful be energized into action? Could be, but this reporter — who has his own history with Martinelli and some of the people around him and would never be so dishonest with the readers as to deny having a negative opinion about the guy — thinks not. He can always import a busload or two of rent-a-protesters, but many signs indicate that supporters are drawing back, hedging bets, not nearly so militant as his lawyers and most rabid fans suggest. The defense witnesses who didn’t show up to testify at his recently concluded trial are but one hint. Then, look at his party’s Twitter feed, although one might say that his personal account or one of the other party feeds is more indicative:

Not exactly the following of a seething, angry political movement that’s about to take to the streets and overthrow a government if it throws their leader in jail. Martinelli’s showing in the polls, less than one-third in a fragmented political environment, represents a broad but shallow appeal to those who buy the line about how he stole but he got things done. From the Realizando Metas Twitter feed.

On the PRD side…

Saturday’s observations included a two-car Anabel sound caravana that went through El Bajito. No stopping to talk. Anabel Ojo Ibarra is running the PRD primary — “torrijista, no oportunista” — to be our next representante. She faces an entrenched incumbent, Carlos Fernández, who has been lavished by a national government that can’t pay its bills with resources to spread around in his primary re-election bid. His signs are all over the main road coming from the Pan-American Highway to my neighborhood, then beyond eventually to Altos de la Estancia and El Valle. The north end of the corregimiento, beyond the El Bajito turnoff, may be Anabel turf. Plus, I just saw a little Anabel sign on the main road.

This primary is PRD members only, and even if we are sort of a PRD stronghold, most of the voters don’t belong to that party or any other party. It’s a small electorate for next Sunday.

And all the Carlos signs? Multiple at each supporter’s house seems to be the norm. And what about the PRD flags, or signs for the mayoral or legislative candidates, where there are no signs for Carlos? Then there are the crude displays — households with building materials stacked out front and new Carlos signs. As in an outwardly impressive display, but a lot more signs than supporters.

We shall see. I expect that Carlos will win the primary, but he may have offended some folks for the general election. Maybe I am entirely wrong.

And will other campaigns for other things confuse the Anabel vote? RM just votes for president today, but Cecibel is running to be the Martinelista candidate for representante, with a primary to come later. Her signs have been popping up here and there in the area. And the other day a huge, lumbering cistern truck distributing water to those few who needed or wanted came down the street, emblazoned with the colors and name of Yanibel, who is running for president in the Cambio Democratico primary. Were it not a party members only primary, perhaps you would get some numbskulls who would vote for Anabel, thinking it was Cecibel or Yanibel. But if Anibel turns out to be the giant-killer, it would not be history’s first big upset. Read the Bible — sometimes the little guy without body armor and just a sling and a stone beats the big guy with the armor, a sword and a spear. But also recall all the times that Tammany Hall candidates crushed their challengers.

Carlos people
The closest campaign sign to me, around the corner from my house. Photo by Eric Jackson.

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