Venezuela wakes up to Election Day: Rojo Rojito o Rosalito?
Those who support the revolutionary process in Venezuela, support the new participatory democracy, their novel, progressive constitution, and of course, their president, Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias, are confident in the popularity of their president and of his impending victory over opposition candidate Manuel Rosales. Of course, the opposition hasn't conceded. Chavez keeps winning and no matter how loud the opposition and their US sponsors (like the National Endowment for Democracy) whines about it, neither their military coup, economic sabotage, PR smear campaign(s), or any other tactic has worked in the last 8 years that Chavez and what he's labeled the 5th Republic has taken the reigns.
Venezuela wakes up to Election Day: Rojo Rojito o Rosalito?
Those who support the revolutionary process in Venezuela, support the new participatory democracy, their novel, progressive constitution, and of course, their president, Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias, are confident in the popularity of their president and of his impending victory over opposition candidate Manuel Rosales. Of course, the opposition hasn't conceded. Chavez keeps winning and no matter how loud the opposition and their US sponsors (like the National Endowment for Democracy) whines about it, neither their military coup, economic sabotage, PR smear campaign(s), or any other tactic has worked in the last 8 years that Chavez and what he's labeled the 5th Republic has taken the reigns. Chavez won in 1998 with a campaign promising constitutional reform. Under the new constitution ratified in 1999, he was reelected as president of the new "Bolivarian" Republic of Venezuela in 2000. Coup (2002). Industrial sabotage (2003- sorry, guys, by the bosses). Opposition groups backed by US government and private funds successfully organized a recall election in 2004, which Chavez won, and although it was certified by international elections monitors like Jimmy Carter, the opposition still labeled the election results fraudulent. In the last election for congressional representatives, sensing impending defeat, all opposition candidates withdrew from their races a matter of weeks before the election. What a bunch of babies, right? Well, from a strategic standpoint they can now claim there are no checks and balances in the system because there is little dissent now within and coming from the legislative branch.
This is an important election. There is a tremendous sense of urgency from the left and the right. On the left the desire to demonstrate to the world that YES Venezuela is democratic and the people do support Chavez and "el proceso." There is talk of defending the revolution from the return of 4th republic, the old guard that ruled for 40 years since the last dictator in 1958. On the right the urgency that comes from losing and fearing what is to come, what they call cubanization. Both sides are talking about fraud. So then we have two sides, both on defense. The Chavistas intend to defend the revolution. The Escuálidos (as the opposition is known) import to defend the vote. At least that is the slogan. The hardliners don't mince words. There is talk of other coup attempt in attempt to reestablish the order undoubtedly lost is the chaos to follow the fraudulent elections.
It should be mentioned that their is a separate government body apart from the courts, the congress, and the president, one of five government bodies called the CNE, or National Electoral Centre. They administer all elections in the country. Walking the streets around commercial centers, plazas, the metro, there are kiosks with trained volunteers at the ready to explain the voting process and hand out samples of the voting screen on the electronic voting machine. CNE also advertises on television a role play voting session. It's quite a distinction from those butterfly ballots and hanging chads, a real attempt to improve democratic participation.
Kinks in the system
Allegations of intentions to disrupt the process, to make things seem shady are rampant. For example, the 3 principle members of the electoral table at José Marti elementary in Sarría, Caracas hadn't shown up yesterday morning. About 10 community members stood across the street in red t-shirts or caps or other things (indicating support for Chavez), waiting, observing, speculating. The "testigos," those who are assigned to observe the process and record irregularities, also waited. Nothing begins with out the president and secretary of the electoral table (locally elected officials). Was this an attempt to disrupt the process or just poor time management? Of course, this is not the only example.
Tengo la camisa negra
The word on the street is that these Escuálidos must be psychic...they already know how the elections will go down. In anticipation of the terrible fraud to be committed so that Chavez can maintain his dictatorial reign, it was discovered, the opposition had printed a batch of black t-shirts that say fraud in large white letters.
More electronic voting machine questions
One fraud scheme some have exposed as a potential threat is just the opportunity to flat out lie. Some have heard of a plan that goes like this: I'm Escuálido. I walk in to vote, normal routine, proceed to the voting machine, vote for CHAVEZ, receive my paper ballot receipt to be placed in the ballot box (the checks system to allow a paper ballot recount), and then shout "FRAUD! I voted for Rosales. This machine is a piece of crap. It was rigged. This election is a scam."
The liberal media is up to it again down here, er wait... the major media outlets are died in the wool tools of the opposition. Lefty organizers expect the full complicity of the media today in the plan to paint the picture of chaos and disorder. They worry especially about media outlets like El Universo, a major newspaper in Caracas. Apparently, this periodical's license expires in two years. Since the editors have not being trying to win friends and influence people (well, at least not Chavez), some say that the paper will not try and place nice and objective, but hasten to support the removal of Chavez.
So, support your local, independent, community media outlets, guys!
We know who we are and we know where we're going!
From community radio to neighborhood militias, those who are with Chavez and the Bolivarian process, will tell you that they are prepared for whatever happens. Their getting out the vote, and they are organized at the community level to respond to what they preserve as threats against their democracy. They'll tell you they aren't anticipating violence, but if it comes, they are prepared. The opposition plans to instigate and exaggerate disorder and violence as a pretext for military intervention, many say. But it doesn't matter. We're 10 millions of consciences. We are the majority. Says Patria, pregnant mama and head of security for one community radio station's Election Day coverage, we know who we are and we know we´re going.
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