Political Revenge of the Ex

Since her divorce from Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez in 2004, Marisabel Rodriguez has been one of his loudest opponents. In classic telenovela style, Rodriguez has become an avid supporter of dissidents who oppose the socialist ideology put forth by Chavez's democratically elected government. Last year, she successfully campaigned against the referendum which would have allowed Chavez to be re-elected indefinitely, telling USA Today that Chavez was seeking a “road to totalitarianism.” Now, she is running for Mayor of her hometown Barquisimeto as a candidate for the opposition party Podemos. “Democracy has been replaced with nepotism, inefficiency, and intolerance,” she told the Associated Press on Saturday, speaking about the Venezuelan government.

Hugo Chávez has been re-elected three times since 1998 and was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People. His success in socializing many industries in Venezuela and his friendship with Fidel Castro have made him a hotly debated figure. When Hugo Chavez first came into a power in 1998, Marisabel Rodriguez was the controversial politician’s fierce first-lady, a well-spoken PR executive who constantly made appearances holding their daughter, Rosinés, in her arms. But things quickly turned sour. The messy divorce between the president and his first lady became a national spectacle, complete with Chavez lashing out against Rodriguez on television claiming she wouldn’t let him see their daughter.

Although Marisabel may not have a real chance in the municipal elections, political experts feel she has the opportunity to become a prominent political figure by using the spectacle of her media appearances. Arturo Serrano, a Venezuelan political scientist told the UK Guardian, “Marisabel doesn't hesitate to talk about Chávez on TV while holding their daughter, and that is the kind of tactic the opposition likes because to fight a media figure like Chávez you need to shock people in some way.”

What do you think? Personal vendetta or passionate politics?

-Gabriela Garcia