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From West to East and North to South, Venezuelan Citizens are signing

By Gustavo Coronel

Valencia (29.11.03) - Only two weeks ago a member of the government party PPT, Mr. Ismael Garcia, threatened with violence those citizens who might try to sign against the current government in the western areas of the city of Caracas, on the grounds that they were “Chavez controlled.” He argued that trying to sign against Chávez in those areas would be “ a provocation”. Yesterday the massive lines waiting to sign against Chávez in the western areas of Caracas were the answer to those threats. From one end of the capital to the other, Venezuelans went to sign adorning themselves with the colors of the flag, once again proving that the pen is mightier than the sword.

Contrary to the somber and solitary event of government followers a week ago, this first day of signature collection by the citizens who oppose Chávez and his “revolution” was full of civic joy. The same joy and massive participation prevailed throughout the country. From the small town of Barrera, where our home is located, my wife reports a surprising turnout by the villagers. This village was strongly pro Chávez during the elections of 1998 and 2000 to the point that fellow villagers, seeing us in line to vote, singled us out as one of the few in the crowd not in favor of Chávez. This time, reports my wife, the familiar faces were there again, but now in tune with her, to ask for the referendum against a president who had broken his promises with the people. The citizens of Barrera, State of Carabobo, population about 10000, had overwhelmingly become members of the opposition. Many of them are unemployed, many have been victims of crime and most have learnt during these five years that progress is not accomplished through interminable speeches and the promotion of social hate, but has to be based in hard work and in the judicious use of public resources.

Yesterday millions of Venezuelan citizens found the reward for their patience and perseverance. The last years have been extremely hard for us, witnessing our progressive social dissolution, our economic collapse, the political circus created by the “ revolution” and the way our country was fast becoming a member of the most backward group of nations. Our civic efforts had not been sufficient to oust the President but proved enough to weaken his base of support considerably. Firm and continuous opposition finally forced him to show his true nature, very authoritarian, undemocratic and much more interested in the exercise of raw power than in the exercise of government. As democratic masks fell out of the “ revolutionaries” those Venezuelans who believed in Chávez started to see him in a different light, not anymore as the champion of the poor but as a narcissistic leader, intent in becoming another regional caudillo in the mold of Fidel Castro.

Signature collection asking for a referendum against the President and his immediate collaborators continues throughout the weekend. All over the world Venezuelans are also signing, in spite of an absurd decision by the Electoral Council, which robbed them of this civic and constitutional right. The citizens of Venezuela are speaking loud and clear: We want democracy, freedom of expression, social harmony, work and honest government. We have no hope of getting this with Chávez and this is why he has to go.


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