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Venezuela: 2 more days of campaigning left

By Daniel Duquenal

Wednesday 11, August 2004 - I am back in Caracas. Some stuff to catch up with but not much that is important because it was simply quite predictable: the government through its lackeys at the Electoral Board (CNE) is trying to do its best to put obstacles to the normal process of calling an election.

Is the vote secret?

It is quite amazing that what should have been a very simple YES/NO vote has become perhaps the most complex election that we ever had. Some favorable effects are appearing for chavismo. For example, as I can judge from morning TV talk shows, a large segment of the population are still convinced that the vote will not be secret and thus they will not go and vote. The canard advanced by word of mouth from chavismo seems to be scaring off a lot of people, in particular public servants. I have my doubts since by voting NO it would be for them a way to demonstrate their fealty to the regime and secure their jobs. Or is it? No, it is not as slowly but surely the public service (if it can still be called that way) is been filled up by Chavez supporters and their relatives. No public job is safe unless you become an active pro-Chavez militant. Having friends in the public sector provides me with a never ending source of amazing tidbits on that subject.

Can you campaign freely across the country?

No, you cannot. Forget about installing SI stands in popular areas which are ruled by thugs. Even trying to set up a SI stand in La Candelaria, an area which should be a normal half and half zone. Well, each time they try to establish a stand for the SI, chavista thugs come and tear it down. See Miguel for details and pictures. Now, would a government sure of its victory act in such violent manners?

Can we trust the electoral system?

Well, it is really hard to give a yes answer to that. Just one example from yesterday El Universal reporting that 80 people in Tachira were "fired" from the electoral system because they signed for the Recall Election. Now the law is quite clear: citizens are selected at random to direct the polling stations. The CNE has been doing its best to eliminate from the polling centers those who signed, breaking the law, and of course not mentioning how we could be sure that those that did not sign were fair in their duties. But Tachira state is special. Its more than slimy governor, Ronald Blanco La Cruz has shown that he has all the trappings of a fascist, not to mention his past as a bloody coup monger and his all but official links to the Colombian guerilla. Of all the chavista governors he is the one that is most willing to go all the way and suppress democracy to make sure that the glorious bolivarian revolution perpetuates for ever and ever. That is why in Tachira people were fired, a test state.

And what about the freedom of the press?

Well the press still does its work but its future if Chavez wins on Sunday has been clearly set by the recent resignation of the EL Mundo editor. Kico Bautista the director of the revamped afternoon daily El Mundo was to publish in its front page a poll that seemed rather serious and that gave the opposition a rather commanding lead. The owners of El Mundo decided to change the cover without even consulting the editor who was away on some professional business. Well, the owners certainly can dictate the editorial line. Unfortunately in this case, the Capriles family (a branch of the Baruta Mayor Capriles rotting in jail as the first official political prisoner of the regime) was involved in a somber inheritance case and rumor has it that to keep their paper they had to promise a moderate line. They did so by firing Teodoro Petkoff that went to better things establishing Tal Cual, a beacon of enlightenment (IMHO). Now, what is really funny is that nothing less than the Communication Minister, Jesse Chacon went on the defense of EL Mundo owners. Indirectly confirming all the rumors about El Mundo sell out, so to speak.

More later. I am back in town and I will try to give as much coverage as possible. Though tomorrow there is the opposition closing march and I am certainly not going to miss it. But I will bring back pictures.

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