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Recall referendum in Venezuela: Chavez v Chavez

By Aleksander Boyd

London 09 Jul. 04 – The opposition does not present a coherent plan! The opposition hasn’t got a strong candidate to defeat Chavez! The opposition won’t unite! They will do away with the Misiones! So it goes the chavista song… One does not need to be Max Weber to realize that, at this stage of the game, it does not really matter whether the opposition closes ranks formidably behind one figure or produces the perfect governing plan. Either way it will undoubtedly be ‘trashed’ by the usual intellectual prostitutes of chavismo. The recall referendum is about Hugo Chavez, no one else.

Chavez v Chavez

Much ink has been spilled with respect to the experiment on participatory democracy spearheaded by Chavez and what comes now, i.e. the recall, is a sudden, and from a chavista viewpoint undesirable, test on said experiment. The very many obstacles that were thrown in the way of democratic participation were all sorted. Furthermore the president himself is currently in command of his survival campaign effort due to the pathetic performance of his cronies, from the Comando Ayacucho, during the signature collection drives. In spite of enjoying a ‘massive support from the people’ chavistas only managed to collect enough signatures to recall 9 assemblymen out of 37. This ‘success’ was achieved with the concourse of the official apparatus, utilising unaccounted for and unlimited funds. The opposition on the other hand had it more difficult, having very many leaders instead of one, as is the case within chavismo, and finite resources. The regime resorted to all kinds of intimidation tactics such as threats of dismissal to civil servants, illegal invalidation of signatures and outright violence which hindered the normal course of the process. Nonetheless, the target figure required to trigger the presidential recall was met. What’s even more preoccupying for Chavez is that his “planchas” (electoral lists of candidates of a given party) have lost recently strategic enclaves such as the Central University of Venezuela –leftist redoubt par excellence- and that of University of The Andes in Merida.

A strong charismatic opposition leader is yet to surface, however these are not times to embark upon the adventure of looking after a contender for the president for he is running against himself. One side of the political divide is formed by those who staunchly support Chavez, his uselessness as a statesman notwithstanding. The other side is somewhat more rich and varied in regards to ideology, the agglutinating factor being the shared conviction that democracy can not thrive, nor can it survive, whilst Hugo Chavez continues with his accelerated march towards authoritarianism. Ergo the recall vote is about Chavez the Messiah-saviour of the dispossessed against Chavez the useless-most-corrupt president that the country has ever had whose criminal behaviour has brought Venezuela to the brink of civil war. The decision should be quite simple based on facts and performance.

The question

Electoral directors Carrasquero, Rodriguez and Battaglinni did not disappointed the critics, loyal to their customary grovelling attitude they produced the question for the recall referendum which in itself condenses what Chavez represents, i.e. the epitome of NO. “¿Está usted de acuerdo con dejar sin efecto el mandato popular otorgado mediante elecciones democráticas legítimas al ciudadano Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías como presidente de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela para el actual periodo presidencial? 1) No 2) Si.” It could be translated as “Do you agree to leave without effect the popular mandate given through legitimate democratic elections to the citizen Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías as president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela for the current presidential period? 1) No 2) Yes.”

If such an elaborated question is not yet another proof of the dodgy character of electoral authorities I sincerely do not know what would be! First of all, what is the relevance to include in the enunciation of the question “…the popular mandate given through legitimate democratic elections…” At this point, who cares if he was elected democratically or not? Moreover should his democratic credentials be impeccable and his popular support massive, why more than a third of the electorate signed to recall him? How about the order of the answers, NO or YES? Philologists and linguistics, could you please expand upon the usage of such an unnatural ordering of answers? If the literacy Misiones have attained half the success that Chavez ‘bestows’ upon them it shall be rather easy to recall him. Quite frankly it is difficult to envision that scenario for it is a known fact that a large chunk of the population in Venezuela is illiterate so imagine what they will think when faced with the, a propos, messed up question. Instinctively one always picks the first choice: “answer me yes or no?” who has not heard that? I bet chavismo wants to bank on that fact.

The opposition strategy

The opposition does not count with an endless cash cow a.k.a. PDVSA. As such it has to maximise its efforts to muster the necessary support to oust Chavez once and for all. The questions that in my opinion they should be posing to the electorate are:

1. Do you want to live in democracy?

2. Do you want your children to have a future?

3. Do you want to live in peace and harmony?

4. Do you want to have stable employment?

5. Do you believe in justice?

6. Do you love your children/parents/relatives?

7. Do you think criminals should be accountable?

If the answer to all of the above was YES Hugo Chavez will, most definitely, be recalled in August 15th. Since I am a firm believer in reconciliation amongst human beings I have also thought about a list that chavistas could use to arouse passions amongst their followers:

1. Would you like your house to be invaded?

2. Would you like to be prosecuted due to your beliefs?

3. Would you like to be assassinated for marching peacefully?

4. Would like to be governed by a convicted criminal?

5. Would you like your children to be abused by Cuban intelligentsia?

6. Would you like your food intake to be rationed?

7. Would you like to go to war?

A NO answer will bring exactly what a person fears the most. Is there a volunteer willing to send this list to Chavez’ Comando Maisanta?

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