Caracas Marches


Updated (postscript below: 2004/6/28)
The results came back from the voting commission and the independent observers Thursday as promised. Over 2,500,000 signatures were shown to be valid. That number is sufficient to launch the recall referendum, a vote planned for the eighth of August. Yesterday the middle classes were out to celebrate and they formed a formidable crowd but they were not to be outdone today by the Chavistas!
This weekend has been a weekend of marches. Saturday was the contra-Chavistas, a predominantly middle class suburban group that passed peacefully with many political banners present for the right wing candidates which will stand against Chavez in the recall. The numbers were impressive but the numbers this afternoon of the Chavista supporters were larger. I shall leave it to the authorities and the pundits for both sides to provide the counts but to my mind the Chavez supporters today outnumbered the Contra-Chavez opposition in the streets by a conservative three to two.
As the Venezuelan flags flew high (with at least one large Cuban flag) on the skyrise slums in Parque Central above Bellas Artes Metro Station, tens of thousands of Chavistas entered the main plaza via freeway intersections past the Caracas Hilton. The only traffic passing through downtown Caracas are the helicopters overhead. The streets are chock-a-block with rural buses which have transported the loyal and happy Chavistas to recover their capital.
Safe in their suites above the few western journalists that had bothered to come had their tripods and video cameras out on the Hilton balconies. From above the sea of red was spectacular but the people were in the streets happily cohorting with their army (all sporting red berets).
Today is party time in Caracas, Chavez still can expect to take the rural vote and much of the working classes but he needs to do more to ensure his victory. One can expect that the government might be spending some of the extraordinary war chest of thousands of millions of US dollars on the kinds of projects he should have been funding all along. Rebuilding the infrastructure of Caracas would be a start. The main freeways passing through the city are a disgrace. With Caracas the capital city of the country that supplies much of the asphalt that covers the streets of Washington DC, the streets here are full of deep potholes.
August shall be a tight and much scrutinied race.
Post-script 2004/6/28
The newspapers report today a warning from Hugo Chavez to his opponents that the recall referendum should be an end to it. This thinly veiled threat that direct action will result if they do not desist after the recall referendum is counted an over. The announcement showed that Chavez is confident of victory in August when the country will go to the polls to see whether ot not he should be allowed to complete his term. In order for Chavez to be defeated in the recall referendum his opponents need to attain more votes than he himself received in the election which elected him.
In a further show of strength F-16’s drowned out traffic noise and set off car alarms in downtown Caracas today. The ‘training’ for the July 5th celebrations were unusually loud, the jet fighters flying low and loud.

1 Comment

  1. heya Tones,
    I’m glad to see projectAllende is still underway, safe, and writing away as happily and anarchistically as ever!
    This is the second post where you talk about the purchase of stock with cash (see Cocaine Economies).
    It is fascinating to think of our major stock exchanges are getting fatter and fatter, even in lean times where very corporate conglomerate who pays almost no taxes is moving jobs abroad to be “more competitive”, by laundering dirty money! Or at least with money that isn’t really money due to false exchange rates manipulated by various governmental agencies.
    I love reading your posts. I hope you and Claire are being careful. it sounds as if you are. What an adventure.
    by the time you get back I may well have spent the same period of time doing nothing but taking legally prescribed drugs.
    I am still not back to work, but cherry-picking in a pseudo job-hunting mode. I am looking pretty much only at SF and Denver.
    When I finally do feel mentally fit to get back to work it certainly isn’t going to be for IBM. Well, maybe only for the 30 days it takes me get riffed (which will allow me to collect another year’s worth of IBM options, my vesting curiously not having been interrupted by my medical leave of absence).
    I talk to Thomas frequently. And Ryan B, through Thomas every now and again. We all miss you.
    regards,
    tV

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