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Venezuela's Chavez on brink of referendum defeat

Repost from  http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/story.jsp?story=551867
16 August 2004

The Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, looked to be losing his grip on power last night as exit polls showed him to be trailing the opposition by almost a million votes.

The figures were early indications that, for the first time in the country's history, the President may have his term in office cut short by a referendum.

The mid-morning results showed that the opposition, already boasting an enormous 1,758,000 votes to Chavez's 798,000, is well on its way to reaching the target of 3.76 million votes it needs to oust the authoritarian, left-wing President. Turn-out for the referendum was high, with millions of Venezuelans queuing from the early hours at polling stations all over the oil-rich country to decide the political fate of the firebrand Mr Chavez.

The Venezuelan people are tensely awaiting a close-run and disputed result. In the capital, Caracas, government vans equipped with speakers drove through the poor residential districts in the east of the city at 5am, playing a military wake-up call before piping out popular pro-Chavez songs to voters, some of whom had in any case been up all night letting off fireworks, anticipating victory.

"Our commandante has already won," said Eric Caldera, a student queuing to vote against Mr Chavez's recall. "The rich people and TV stations are the only ones who say the opposition is going to win. They want to regain the power and privilege they had before, and loot the country. You can count the rich people on your hand, the poor you can't. They are too many. And they are with Chavez."

A clamorous cluster of opposition voters in Parroquia El Recreo voting station, central Caracas, rejected the pro-Chavez voters' arguments against them. "If Chavez wins we will paint the walls with 'No Future'. As no one will have a future, not us nor our children. We don't want a Cuba here," added Elsie Billar, 54, an accountant.

If, as looked likely last night, Mr Chavez loses, Vice-President Jose Rangel will take over until general elections are held in a month's time.

© 2004 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd
Exit polls - no 15.Aug.2004 22:12

gk

I was just reading from reliable journalists why they do NOT write from "exit polls."

right! 15.Aug.2004 22:19

b

This is not the FOX news website, go somewhere else with this bullshit.

Venezuela Extends Voting on Chavez Referendum Into Second Day 15.Aug.2004 22:20

Aug. 16 (Bloomberg) --

Last Updated: August 16, 2004 00:37 EDT

Venezuela extended a recall referendum on President Hugo Chavez into a second day, after a record turnout and malfunctioning ballot machines kept voters in line for as long as 10 hours.

Chavez, a 50-year-old former paratrooper who survived both a military coup and two-month strike by oil workers, said after voting yesterday that he would respect the outcome. In a televised speech, Miranda State Governor Enrique Mendoza, a leader of the opposition, urged Venezuelans to endure the wait and vote.

Concern that the vote could prompt violence and disrupt supplies from the fourth-largest oil exporter to the U.S. pushed up the price of crude to a record. A gunman in Caracas yesterday sprayed bullets at voters, killing one person and injuring 12, the city's Fire Chief Rodolfo Briceno said in an interview.

``There is a fear factor that something may go wrong after the referendum,'' Gal Luft, executive director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, a Washington-based research company specializing in energy security, said in an interview. ``If Chavez is removed that could create violence. This guy will not leave quietly. There could be sabotage. There could be agitations.''

The National Electoral Council, which yesterday had extended polling eight hours to midnight in Caracas (midnight in New York), was meeting early today to decide its next steps, a spokeswoman for the council in Caracas said. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who is among international observers in Venezuela, said at a press conference from the council's headquarters yesterday that polls would stay open until the last voter in line casts a ballot.

Voters still were standing in line outside some polling booths in the capital city early today.

`So Many People'

``I've never seen so many people voting in my entire life,'' said Manuel Navarro, 72, after he stood seven hours in line at a polling station in Caracas' Chacao neighborhood to cast his vote to recall Chavez. Navarro voted for Chavez in 1998.

``He hasn't lived up to any of his promises,'' said Navarro, whose neighbors brought him food and water while he waited. ``The constitution doesn't mention anything about a revolution.''

Venezuelans had picnics, played dominoes and blared music from boom boxes to pass the time as their relatives waited in line to vote. Alvaro Atias, a 29-year-old economist, said he waited from 6 a.m. until 4 p.m. at a polling station in the La Lagunita neighborhood of Caracas to vote.

Chavez, who counts Cuban President Fidel Castro among his friends, said in his weekly televised speech Aug. 8 that the recall vote was an attempt by the U.S. to replace him with a pro-American government. The U.S. purchases 60 percent of Venezuela's oil exports.

`Tough Opposition'

``Chavez would make a very tough opposition leader and that calls into question how easy it would be for the opposition to govern,'' Luis Oganes, an analyst with J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. in New York who specializes in the Andean region, said in an interview.

The opposition, led by Mendoza and Julio Borges, national coordinator for the First Justice Party, gathered 2.44 million signatures to force the referendum on Chavez more than two years before his term ends. Mendoza said at a press conference Friday that Chavez failed to combat crime and create jobs since taking office in 1999.

Venezuela's unemployment rate rose as high as 20.7 percent in March 2003 from 11 percent in 1998, and was at about 16 percent in March this year, government figures show. The nation's capital had the third-highest murder rate of any city in the Americas between 1999 and 2003, according to the Inter-American Development Bank.

Margin of Victory

Jim Barrineau, a senior vice president for emerging markets at Alliance Capital Management Co. in New York, said the margin of victory will matter most. Chavez has said he will run in a new presidential election that must be held next month should he lose the recall.

``If the opposition wins by 50,000 votes then the market will say that it's easy for him to pick up that many in a month,'' Barrineau, whose firm manages $145 billion in fixed-income securities, including $8 billion in emerging-market debt, said in an interview.

Venezuela's benchmark bond due 2027 rose 0.1 cent on the dollar to a six-month high of 91.4 cents on Friday on expectations Chavez will win the vote and keep up interest payments on the nation's $22 billion foreign debt.

``A government win is the status quo from a credit standpoint and the market could go up because uncertainty will be behind us,'' Raphael Kassin, who helps manage about $1.4 billion in assets, including Venezuelan bonds, at ABN Amro Asset Management in London, said in an interview.

Increased Security

Petroleos de Venezuela SA, the state oil company, doubled security staff at oil fields, refineries and storage tanks ahead of the vote. It was operating normally during yesterday's voting, a company spokesman said in an interview. Soldiers stood guard at Venezuela's almost 9,000 polling stations.

Previous attempts to oust Chavez, including a military coup and a national strike, sparked deadly protests.

Carter said yesterday that the voting was ``going quite well.'' At a later press conference in Caracas, Carter said a higher-than-expected turnout and problems with voting machines were causing delays. New fingerprint scanners, put in place to guard against fraud, contributed to the problems.

Chavez, dressed in a white turtleneck and brown jacket, said in televised remarks after voting that the fingerprint reader at his polling booth didn't work.

At about 5 p.m. yesterday in Caracas, bullets sprayed from a vehicle passing by a polling station in the Petare neighborhood, said Briceno, the fire chief. The shooting probably was an attempt to disrupt the vote, he said.

U.S. Supplier

Venezuela was the fourth-biggest source of U.S. crude-oil imports during the first five months of the year, according to the U.S. Energy Department. Venezuelan Energy Minster Rafael Ramirez said at a press conference Friday that oil workers won't accept a Chavez defeat.

Crude oil for September delivery rose as much as 27 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $46.85 a barrel in after-hours electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was at $46.53 at 11:18 a.m. Singapore time (11:18 p.m. in New York).

The price of oil for September delivery jumped $1.08, or 2.4 percent, to $46.58 a barrel Friday, the highest close since oil began trading in New York in 1983.

For Chavez to be recalled, the opposition must win a majority of votes and more than the 3.76 million that he won in 2000 when he stood for re-election because of changes in the constitution. Chavez's term ends in 2006.

Results will be released within three hours after voting ends, according to the National Electoral Council.



To contact the reporter on this story:
Helen Murphy in Caracas  hmurphy@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor of this story:
Laura Zelenko at  lzelenko@bloomberg.net


I wouldn't be too sure about that...Hannah 15.Aug.2004 22:20

Rubber

Caracas, Venezuela, Aug 15 (Venezuelanalysis.com).- Venezuela's National Electoral Council (CNE) announced today at 2:45pm the existence of a prerecorded fake press conference using the voice of CNE President announcing definitive results of the recall referendum currently under way.

CNE board member Jorge Rodriguez and CNE President Francisco Carrasquero made the announcement, which was initially not covered by the local commercial media, forcing the CNE to make use of a media link-up order. Local commercial TV stations are openly opposed to the Chavez government and campaigned against him.

In the recording, Carrasquero's voice can be heard saying that "the CNE tally committee has determined that the Yes referendum option obtained 11.431.086 votes, and therefore President Hugo Chavez has been revoked."

The fake recording was allegedly intended to be released tonight at 8:00PM.

 http://www.cbc.ca/cp/world/040815/w081558.html

Nobody really knows, so here's 15.Aug.2004 22:21

another perspective attempting to be objective

Polls from Venezuela Point to Chavez Aug. 15 Victory
 info@pcasc.net

VENEZUELA:
Polls Point to Likely Chávez Victory in
Referendum

Humberto Márquez


CARACAS, Aug 10 (IPS) - For the past two and a half years, political polls
in Venezuela showed that a majority of respondents were opposed to
President Hugo Chávez. But that has now changed.

Most of the latest polls have indicated that he is likely to win next
Sunday's recall referendum, when 14 million voters will decide whether to
revoke his mandate or allow him to complete his term, which ends in January
2007.

Venezuela "is in the midst of a survey war and many of us are falling
victim," said Félix Seijas of the Datos polling company, refuting a
newspaper cover story which reported that in a poll by his firm, 50 percent
of those interviewed were against Chávez and 44 percent in his favour.

That information is false, said the pollster, who added that the real
results of the survey, carried out "for very private persons and
institutions, can absolutely not be revealed."

However, he did mention that Datos does not consider the number of "ni-ni"
or "neither-nor" votes -- those neither with Chávez nor the opposition -- an important issue.

In late June, Keller and Associates interviewed 1,200 people throughout the
country and found that 34 percent intended to vote "Yes" to the proposal of
removing Chávez, while 45 percent said they would vote "No", and 19 percent
said they were undecided.

But Alfredo Keller, the company director, said the "Yes" vote could win if
the "undecideds" vote against Chávez.

"The opposition can win if they get the hidden vote -- those people who, on
the day of the referendum, will vote for an option that differs from what
they said in the survey," he argued.

The opposition Democratic Coordinator coalition, which gathered the
signatures to trigger the referendum against Chávez, has practically
adopted the "hidden vote" theory as its official argument.

"Venezuela is going to be like Nicaragua in 1990, when the (pre- election)
polls indicated that the (governing leftist) Sandinista (National
Liberation Front) would win, but then the opposition candidate Violeta
Chamorro triumphed," Democratic Coordinator spokesman Jesús Torrealba told IPS.

However, political analyst Eleazar Díaz Rangel, former head of the Latin
American Federation of Journalists, said "it is not true that the polls
failed in Nicaragua. The Ecco, Grenberg, Bendicen and Belden polling
companies failed, but Cid, Borges, Mora y Araujo and Venezuela's Doxa all
said Chamorro would win."

Opposition leaders and many of their supporters writing in the press argue
the "hidden vote" is that of civil servants or those living in poor
neighbourhoods who, in environments dominated by supporters of Chávez, say
they will vote "No", but when casting their secret ballot will actually
vote "Yes."

Also in June, Grenberg interviewed 2,000 voters, in association with
Venezuelan firms, and came up with a tie at 48 percent for each side.

North American Opinion Research, based in the northeastern U.S. state of
Delaware, surveyed 2,600 people in all 24 provinces in July and found that
60 percent said they would vote for Chávez and 35 percent against.

Another U.S. firm, Evans/McDonough, working with the local company
Varianzas in July, found that 51 percent of their 2,000- strong sample said
they would vote for Chávez and 43 percent against, while six percent said
they would not vote at all. The polling company thus predicted a victory
for the president by 55 percent against 45 percent of the electorate.

The Venezuelan company Hinterlaces polled 1,500 people in the ten most
densely populated areas of the country in July and found 51 percent in
favour of Chávez, 40 percent against and nine percent undecided or planning
not to vote.

Results are still pending from the two companies most used by private
companies in Venezuela, Mercanálisis and Datanálisis. Their figures from
the second half of 2001 until May 2004 saw support for Chávez varying
between 28 and 43 percent, while the opposition share ranged from 57 to 72
percent of voters.

This variation is due to the fact that "a survey is a snapshot of the
moment, of the day. Things can change in such a complicated, polarised and
volatile set of circumstances like the present," Datanálisis director Luis
León told IPS.

"The opposition and the media have presented surveys against the government
and President Chávez for years, and now that the tide is turning, they
refuse to show their results," said Information Minister Jesse Chacón.

Germán Campos with the Varianzas polling firm told IPS that "results based
on different but equally valid samples can differ in a political situation
as closed and entrenched" as that of Venezuela today.

"At the moment it can be said the two sides are very close," said León, as
the government and the opposition have a rock-solid hold on one-third of
the electorate each, meaning the decision is in the hands of the
"non-aligned" -- the group Seijas says does not actually exist.

But according to Evans/McDonough, 86 percent of those surveyed by the firm
in June were already sure of how they would vote, while North American
Opinion Research found that 92 percent of their interviewees were sure of
their decision.

"There is a clear tendency that many more will vote to ratify Chávez in
office than to revoke his mandate," said Evans/ McDonough executive Alex Evans.

Samuel Moncada of the pro-government election campaign team told IPS "the
true hidden vote was not shown in the surveys for a long time -- that of
Venezuelans who were waiting to see whether or not there would be a
referendum. Now that there will be a vote, they will express their support
for the president."

In the final stretch of the campaign, the governing coalition -- which has
offered more abundant and eye-catching propaganda than the opposition -- is
counting on mass rallies to demonstrate that the support forecast in the
surveys is real.

In the meantime, the Democratic Coordinator is
carrying out what it calls a "silent campaign," with door to door visits to
people who have at some time signed a petition against Chávez, to shore up the
conviction that the "hidden vote" will come through on Sunday.
(END/1900)
-----------------------------
PCASC/CBLOC
Portland Central America Solidarity Committee
616 E. Burnside, Portland, Oregon 97214
503.236.7916, < info@pcasc.net>

CBLOC, the Cross Border Labor Organizing
Coalition,
meets the first and third Wednesday of each month
at 7:00 in our office at 616 E. Burnside.

Whoever this Baldock is should be fired 16.Aug.2004 05:17

as

you can see right through her fascist intentions to the core of her filthy heart.